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LETTERS OF THE 
EMPRESS FREDERICK 




MACMDLLAN AND CO,, lorn 

LONDON BOMBAY * CALCUTTA * MADRAS 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO 
DALLAS SAN FRANCISCO 

THE MACMILLAN CO, OF CANADA, la 

TORONTO 




_ /A c O infircss _ I re clcn ck 
1900 



LETTERS OF 
THE EMPRESS FREDERICK 

edited by 

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE 

SIR FREDERICK PONSONBY 

G.C.B., G.C.V.O. 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

1928 



COPYRIGHT 

First Edition October 1928 
Repritited October 1928 



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 
R f & R. CLARK ? LIMITED, 



PREFACE 

THE main purpose of this volume of the letters of the 
Empress Frederick has been to allow the Empress's own 
words to provide the answer to those cruel and slanderous 
accusations from which her memory has suffered. For 
this reason the running commentary necessary to enable 
the reader to understand the letters has been reduced to 
the minimum. 

These letters, while fairly representing the thoughts 
and opinions of the Empress, give but a very imperfect 
picture of her character and personality. An advanced 
thinker of strong liberal views, she hesitated to express 
such views freely to Queen Victoria, to whom she knew 
they would not be acceptable. Moreover, the Empress's 
many artistic activities had associated her with the 
world of art, where she had imbibed modern theories 
which did not appeal to the Queen. Consequently the 
letters hardly refer to those aesthetic tastes which were 
an outstanding feature in her life. 

The material available not being sufficient for a com- 
plete biography, the best course seemed to be to concen- 
trate entirely on the letters. It may be urged that a 
publication must be premature in which, for judicious 
reasons, some interesting material has to be suppressed. 
On the other hand, to delay the production of these letters 
would be to postpone them for a new generation to whom 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

the Empress Frederick would be unknown except as an 
historic figure. 

The letters speak for themselves. They represent a 
regular weekly, almost daily, correspondence, character- 
ised by the same dutiful tone on the part of the Empress 
and the same affectionate wisdom from Queen Victoria. 

In this volume of letters reference is made to more 
recent publications containing allusions to the Empress 
and in the majority of cases acknowledgment is made in 
the footnote. This, however, does not apply to several 
letters from Queen Victoria to the Empress and from the 
Empress to Queen Victoria which have already appeared 
in The. Letters of Queen Victoria^ edited by Mr. George 
Earle Buckle, and my thanks are due to Sir John Murray 
for permission to make use of this material. 

The papers of my father, the late Sir Henry Ponsonby, 
contained letters which, though fragmentary, throw side- 
lights on the subjects discussed by the Empress : these 
have also been included. 

To the Honourable Mrs. Hovell I am indebted for 
many details connected with her husband's experiences 
at San Remo and also for allowing me to see the papers 
and newspaper cuttings she had collected dealing with 
the Emperor Frederick's illness. 

To many friends I am indebted for advice, but par- 
ticularly to Sir Rennell Rodd who found time to read 
through the proofs and make many valuable suggestions. 
Having been an intimate friend of the Empress Frederick 
and Secretary of Embassy in Berlin during the most in- 
teresting part of her life, there is no one living who has 
a more intimate knowledge of the history of Germany 
during that period. I am under a great obligation to Mr. 
S. F. Markham, M.A., for the invaluable assistance he 
vi 



PREFACE 

gave me. I have also to thnk Mr. A. V. Marten for having 
undertaken the arduous task of transcribing the letters, 
and finally my thanks are due to Mr. Emery Walker for 
the very artistic reproductions he has made of the photo- 
graphs of the Empress Frederick. 

F. E. G. PONSONBY. 



vn 



INTRODUCTION 

THE circumstances under which the letters of the Empress 
Frederick came into my possession are so exceptional and 
even dramatic that I make no apology for giving them in 
detail. 

Soon after King Edward came to the throne in 
1901, the accounts of the Empress Frederick's health be- 
gan to be alarming, and as she was his favourite sister, 
he decided to go and stay with her for a week at 
Friedrichshof, near Cronberg. He took with him Sir 
Francis Laking, his physician in ordinary, and myself 
as Equerry and Private Secretary. The addition of Sir 
Francis Laking to his suite was very much resented not 
only by the German* doctors attending the Empress, who 
rightly thought she was past all medical aid, but also by 
the Emperor's suite, who considered his presence to be a 
slur on the German medical profession. It was, however, 
the King's idea that possibly Sir Francis Laking might 
do something to mitigate her terrible sufferings by ad- 
ministering narcotics in larger doses than the German 
doctors were accustomed to give. 

After I had been at Friedrichschof for three days, I 
received a message that the Empress wished to see me in 
the evening at six o'clock. At the hour named I went 
upstairs and was shown into her sitting-room where I 
found her propped up with cushions ; she looked as if 

I ix 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

she had just been taken off the rack after undergoing tor- 
ture. The nurse signed to me to sit down and whispered 
that the Empress would be better in a moment as she had 
been given an injection of morphia. I sat down feeling 
very helpless in the presence of so much suffering, and 
waited. Suddenly the Empress opened her eyes and began 
to speak. How did I like Friedrichschof ? What did I 
think of it ? Had I seen all her art treasures ? The im- 
pression that I was talking to a dying woman vanished 
and I was suddenly conscious that I had to deal with a 
person who was very much alive and alert. We talked of 
the South African War and of the way it was being mis- 
represented in Europe, and we discussed the political 
situation in England. She asked searching questions about 
the King's position as a constitutional monarch and ex- 
pressed her admiration of our constitution, but after a 
quarter of an hour this intense conversation and hurricane 
of questions seemed to tire her and she closed her eyes. 
I remained silent, uncertain whether I ought not leave the 
room. Just then the nurse came in and said I had been 
over twenty minutes and that I really must go. " A few 
minutes more ", said the Empress, and the nurse appar- 
ently consented, for she left the room. After a pause the 
Empress opened her eyes and said, " There is something 
I want you to do for me. I want you to take charge of 
my letters and take them with you back to England/' 
When I expressed my readiness to undertake their custody 
she seemed pleased and went on in a dreamy sort of way : 
<c I will send them to you at one o'clock to-night and I 
know I can rely on your discretion, I don't want a soul 
to know that they have been taken away and certainly 
Willie [her son, the Emperor William II.] must not have 
them, nor must he ever know you have got them." 
x: 



INTRODUCTION 

Our conversation was again interrupted by the en- 
trance of the nurse, who explained that the Empress had 
said " a few minutes' conversation " and I had been with 
her for over half an hour. This time there was no doubt 
I had to go and so I retired to my room wondering if the 
Empress had said all that there was to be said on the 
subject. 

I dined as usual with King Edward. On this occasion 
the German Emperor, the Duchess of Sparta (afterwards 
Queen of the Hellenes), Princess Frederick Charles of 
Hesse (both daughters of the Empress), Countess Per- 
poncher, Count Eulenburg, General von Kessel, General 
von Scholl, Rear-Admiral von Mxiller, Count Hohenau 
and the German doctors Renvers and Spielhagen were 
also present. After dinner we talked till about eleven, 
when everyone went to bed. I went to my bedroom 
and started work. There was so much to do that the 
time passed quickly. 

This was the first time King Edward had gone abroad 
since he had ascended the throne. Prior to his accession 
one Equerry had been able to attend to his correspond- 
ence, etc., during his visits abroad, and at first he was 
under the impression that there would be no necessity to 
increase the number now that he was king. But, as he 
found out later, it was a totally different proposition, and 
the work was really more than one man could do. In 
addition to his official boxes and letters, the ciphering 
and deciphering of telegrams, and the arrangement for 
the Foreign Office King's Messengers, there were the 
requisition of special trains, instructions to the royal yacht 
and the escort of cruisers, the ordering of guards of 
honour and the mass of small detail connected with any 
continental journev^ But what made all this doubly diffi- 

xi 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

cult was the fact that I had to accompany the King 
whenever he went out and that often he was out all the 
afternoon. I had no shorthand clerk in those days and 
therefore it meant writing till 2 A.M. every night. 

The castle clock boomed one and I waited expect- 
antly, but there was dead silence, and I was coming to 
the conclusion that I had either misunderstood or that 
some unforeseen obstacle had prevented the letters reach- 
ing me, when I heard a quiet knock on my door. I said 
" Herein ", and four men came in carrying two boxes 
about the size of portmanteaux, and covered with black 
oilcloth. The cords round them were quite new and on 
each box was a plain white label with neither name nor 
address. I noticed that the men wore blue serge breeches 
and long riding boots and I came to the conclusion that 
they were not trusted retainers but stablemen quite ignor- 
ant of what the boxes contained. They put the two boxes 
down and retired without saying a word. 

It now dawned on me that I had undertaken no easy 
task, and I began to wonder how I was to get such large 
boxes back to England without anyone suspecting their 
contents. I had assumed, perhaps not unnaturally, that 
the expression " letters " meant a packet of letters that I 
should have no difficulty in concealing in one of my port- 
manteaux. But these large corded boxes were quite an- 
other matter and the problem of getting them back to 
England required careful thought. To adopt any method 
of concealment and to attempt to smuggle them away 
was to court disaster, as the whole place was full of secret 
police, but on the other hand, to account for these boxes 
which had apparently dropped from the skies was no easy 
matter. I therefore wrote on the label of one " Books 
with care " and on the other " China with care ", with 
xii 



INTRODUCTION 

my private address, and determined to place them in the 
passage with my empty boxes without any attempt at 
concealment. 

The next morning my servant was astonished to find 
this weighty addition to my luggage, but I explained in 
an offhand way that they were things I had bought in 
Homburg, and that I wanted them placed in the passage. 
Perhaps even this was injudicious, as the first thing that 
happened was a visit from King Edward's courier, M. 
Fehr, who said that strict instructions had been given to 
the servants that nothing was to be allowed to come into 
the castle unless it was passed by himself or the Emperor's 
Chief of Police ; yet in spite of all these precautions he 
found that two boxes of goods from Homburg had 
reached me without anyone knowing anything about 
them! This was very awkward, and I felt I was making a 
bad start. I told him that Custom House officers were 
bad enough, but if he began to make trouble before I 
started I should never get the goods into England. " It 
is at the Custom House I want your help, not here," I 
said in an aggrieved voice. Under the impression that 
the boxes contained something contraband and that I in- 
tended to invoke his aid to get them through the Custom 
House he became very confidential and said I could rely 
on his help. So the boxes remained with my other lug- 
gage and were seen by everyone who passed along that 
passage, 

On March i, 1901, we left Friedrichshof to return to 
London. That day a party of soldiers from the garrison 
was employed to carry all the luggage down. I was 
talking to the Emperor in the hall at the time and out of 
the corner of my eye I could see the procession of soldiers 
carrying portmanteaux, suit-cases, despatch boxes, etc. ; 

xiii 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

when these two black boxes came past they looked so 
different from the rest of the luggage that I became 
nervous lest someone should inquire what they were, but 
no one appeared to notice them, and the Emperor went on 
talking. When they disappeared from the hall I breathed 
again, but not for long because, as ill-luck would have it, 
they were the last to be placed on the wagon which stood 
in front of the windows of the great hall, and there 
seemed something wrong with the tarpaulin cover. The 
other wagons were covered up, but this particular wagon 
remained uncovered with these two boxes with their new 
cords and labels staring at me. The Emperor, however, 
was holding forth on some subject that interested him, 
and naturally everyone, including myself, listened atten- 
tively. It was a great relief when I at last saw the tar- 
paulin cover drawn over the luggage and a few minutes 
later heard the wagon rumble away. 

After I arrived in England I took the two boxes to 
my private house, Cell Farm at Old Windsor, and locked 
them up. 

On August 5, 1901, the Empress Frederick died at 
Friedrichshof, Cronberg, and the funeral took place on 
the i3th. It was a long-drawn-out ceremony beginning 
with a service in the little church at Cronberg, after which 
the body was taken by train to Potsdam where the final 
service was held. King Edward this time took with 
him Lord Clarendon (die Lord Chamberlain), Admiral 
Sir John Fullerton, Major-General Sir Stanley Clarke, 
the Honourable Sidney Greville, and myself as Private 
Secretary. 

One evening after dinner Count Eulenburg, the head 
of the Emperor's household, took me aside and said he 
wanted to speak to me quite confidentially. He explained 
xiv 



INTRODUCTION 

that when the Empress Frederick died, no letters or papers 
had been found, although a thorough search had been 
made, and the Emperor wished me to ascertain, without 
making too much of it, whether by chance these letters 
were in the archives at Windsor. To give some idea of 
how thorough the search was at Cronberg, Sir Arthur 
Davidson, who happened to be at Homburg at the time 
and who drove out to Friedrichshof, told me that the 
grounds were all surrounded by cavalry and the castle 
itself by special police, while competent searchers ran- 
sacked every room. 

I replied that there would be no difficulty about this 
and that I would write at once to Lord Esher, who was 
Keeper of the Archives. I accordingly did so, knowing 
full well that Lord Esher was quite unaware of the exist- 
ence of these letters, and in due course I received a reply 
saying that they were certainly not in the archives. This 
I forwarded to Count Eulenburg, who wrote a short note 
thanking me for all the trouble I had taken. 

Some years later I had another conversation with him 
on the subject and he seemed then to suspect that I was 
in some way connected with the disappearance of these 
letters. He asked me several questions about my visit 
to Friedrichshof, all of which I was able to answer with 
candour, although I was conscious at the time that these 
questions were merely the preliminary overtures to more 
searching and precise inquiries. Fortunately we were 
interrupted before we got down to the pith of the matter 
and I was saved from embarrassing questions. 

So the letters have remained undisturbed for the last 
twenty-seven years, and during all this time the question 
what the Empress intended me to do with them has con- 
stantly occurred to me. Obviously I was not meant to 

xv 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

bum them, because she could easily have done this herself 
had she wanted to do so. With every desire to carry out 
the wishes of a dying woman, I wanted to make sure that 
I was rightly interpreting them, but there was no one who 
could throw any light on the matter ; no one to whom 
the Empress had confided her intentions. There seems no 
doubt that her letters to Queen Victoria must have been 
sent out from England to her at Friedrichshof, and the 
question therefore arises why did she send for these letters 
when she must have known she had not long to live ? 
The theory that she intended to look through them and 
select some for publication is strengthened by the fact 
that occasionally whole pages are rendered undecipher- 
able with erasures. This must have been her work, and 
if this is the case it is clear that she wished to erase certain 
passages from the letters before they were eventually 
published. The fact that she should have sent for these 
letters, looked through them, deleted passages, and finally 
have sent them back to England seems to point to her 
having contemplated their publication. 

Having come to the conclusion that the time had 
arrived when the letters must be sent away to prevent 
their being destroyed, she thought she could not do 
better than entrust them to me. I was not only her god- 
son and the son of one of her greatest friends, but I 
would have exceptional facilities for taking them to 
England. 

The curious part is that she should not have confided 
her intention to her brother, King Edward, or given him 
any hint of what she had in her mind. Presumably the 
fact that her letters to Queen Victoria had been sent out 
to her must have been known by King Edward and, 
therefore, if she merely intended to send them back to 
xvi 



INTRODUCTION 

the archives, it would only have been natural for her 
to entrust them to her brother. That she did not do so 
points to her having wished something more done with 
them, something which she feared would not meet with 
his approval. Whether she intended to see me again in 
order to explain her intentions or whether, if the nurse 
had not interrupted us, she would have done so at the 
time, must necessarily remain hypotheses that can never 
be verified. 

The most probable theory is that when Bismarck's 
Reminiscences was published and other contemporary 
memoirs appeared, she writhed under the criticisms of 
her conduct and objected to the part she was depicted as 
having played in German politics. She therefore was 
determined that her side of the question should at least 
have a hearing and she intended to select certain letters 
and edit them for publication, at the same time obliterat- 
ing any passages that were indiscreet and which time had 
proved to be inaccurate. Her terrible illness made this 
impossible, and all she was able to do was to erase certain 
passages. Finding that her end was approaching, she 
determined to confide her intentions to me, but circum- 
stances prevented her from doing more than giving me 
the letters. It seems quite inconceivable that if I was 
merely to hand them back to the King or put them back 
in the archives, she should not have said so at once or 
have spoken to her brother on the subject, more especially 
as she saw him daily during his visit. 

On looking through the letters that had been en- 
trusted to my care I found the following letter or memor- 
andum that had been written to Queen Victoria a few 
months after the death of the Emperor Frederick. 1 

1 The date would appear to be about September 13, 1888. 

xvii 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

MEMORANDUM CONCERNING THE COLLECTING OF 
MATERIAL FOR A LIFE OF FRITZ 

As I have never kept a diary the only documents of the thirty 
years of our married life that exist are my letters to dear Mama, 
and my correspondence with Fritz. Dear Mama could do me the 
most immense service, if she would let someone most trustworthy 
and discreet (under Sir Th. Martin's supervision) be allowed to 
make extracts from my letters to her concerning the political 
events, also matters of the court and our life here, etc., with a 
view to my having selections made and translated from those 
extracts later. If dear Mama would allow this to be set about 
soon, it would be a great service to me. My letters to Stockmar 
are all burnt, those to Countess Bliicher also. I must not let the 
matter rest, I may die any day, and the truth which is being so 
systematically smothered and twisted must be put down some- 
where, no matter whether it be published in my lifetime or no. 
I feel that my memory has suffered terribly by the shock I have 
sustained and by the sorrow which seems to have shaken the very 
foundations of my being. 

I can still remember things which I might not remember later. 
I ought at least to begin to arrange my material. I should be very 
thankful if dear Mama could help me in this way. 

This seems to confirm the theory that the Empress 
wished her version of events published and that she even 
considered the possibility of publication during her life- 
time. 

After her death in 1901, 1 came to the conclusion that 
it was not in her interests that these letters should then 
be published. Even assuming they had been entrusted to 
me for this purpose, I felt that these wishes had not been 
expressed with sufficient clearness to warrant my attempt- 
ing any immediate publication. 

These letters have therefore remained untouched dur- 
ing the last twenty-seven years, and it was only the con- 
tinual reference to and criticism of the Empress Frederick 
xviii 



INTRODUCTION 

in recent publications that led me to reconsider my re- 
sponsibility in the matter. These criticisms have been so 
bitter and so unjust that in the interests of historic truth, 
to say nothing of the memory of the Empress Frederick, 
I came to the conclusion that these letters should now 
be published. 



xix 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER I 

PAGE 

BIRTH, EDUCATION AND MARRIAGE i 

CHAPTER II 
EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 13 

CHAPTER III 
THE AUSTRIAN WAR 56 

CHAPTER IV 
THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 70 

CHAPTER V 
BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 . . . .129 

CHAPTER VI 
THE CROWN PRINCESS AND HER FAMILY * . ,167 

CHAPTER VII 
FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 1878-1886 187 

CHAPTER Vffl 
PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG . . . . 199 

CHAPTER IX 

THE ILLNESS OF THE CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK , . 224 

xxi 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 
CHAPTER X 

PAGE 

SAN REMO ....... 251 

CHAPTER XI 
THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK . . . 286 

CHAPTER XH 
THE EMPEROR WILLIAM II. . . . . .317 

CHAPTER XHI 
THE WAR DIARY OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK . -339 

CHAPTER XIV 

THE EMPEROR WILLIAM'S VISIT TO ENGLAND, 1889 . 366 

CHAPTER XV 
THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK . . . -387 

CHAPTER XVI 
CAPRIVI'S CHANCELLORSHIP . . . . . 415 

CHAPTER XVH 
CLOSING YEARS ....... 450 

INDEX ........ 475 



xxii 



LIST OF PORTRAITS 

THE EMPRESS FREDERICK, 1900. From a photo- 
graph by T. A. Voigt . . . Frontispiece 

THE PRINCESS ROYAL. From a lithograph 

published in Berlin .... Facing page $ 

THE CROWN PRINCESS, 1860. From the portrait 

by Heinrich von Angeli ... 26 

THE CROWN PRINCESS AND PRINCE WILLIAM, 

1876. From a photograph by T. Priim , 144 



XXffl 



CHAPTER I 

BIRTH, EDUCATION, AND MARRIAGE 

THE Empress Frederick was born at Windsor on Novem- 1 840 
her 21, 1840. Although there was naturally disappoint- 
ment that the first child born to Queen Victoria and 
Prince Albert should be a daughter and not a son, the 
British public gave a sigh of relief, since it rendered the 
possibility of a Cumberland succession still more remote. 
Hitherto, the next heir to the throne had been the un- 
popular Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, the " Hanoverian 
ogre ", as he was called, whose hideous features, accentu- 
ated by a distorted eye, whose vindictive bad temper, 
reactionary politics and dissolute private life made him 
feared and hated by the great mass of the people. 

The birth of the Princess Royal was welcomed in the 
illustrated journals of the time with a shower of kindly, if 
not always refined, caricatures, according to the custom 
of the period. The infant daughter, Victoria Adelaide 
Mary Louisa, who now became the next in succession 
to the throne, was christened at Buckingham Palace on 
February 10, 1841, The sponsors were Prince Albert's 1841 
brother, Ernest, Duke of Saxe-Coburg (represented in his 
absence by the Duke of Wellington), Leopold, King of 
the Belgians (who had been the husband of the unfortu- 
nate Princess Charlotte), Adelaide, the Queen Dowager, 
the Duchess of Kent, the Duchess of Gloucester and the 
Duke of Sussex. 



BIRTH, EDUCATION, AND MARRIAGE 

upon his eldest son gave her qualities of concentration 1851 
and assimilation which she never lost. 

The young Princess had barely entered her teens 
before rumour began to be rife about prospective hus- 
bands. Early in the field with sound advice on the sub- 
jectwas Leopold I., King of the Belgians, Queen Victoria's 
trusted uncle, counsellor and friend. The fact, however, 
that a young Teutonic Prince had already made up his 
mind to win the Princess rendered King Leopold's dis- 
sertations on the advantages to be derived from certain 
alliances a mere waste of paper. 

In fairy stories it is customary for the Prince and 
Princess of neighbouring kingdoms to meet and fall in 
love without the knowledge of their subsequently de- 
lighted parents, but that a romance of this kind should 
actually happen in mid- Victorian England seems difficult to 
believe. The somewhat stilted and artificial romanticism 
of the fifties hardly prepares the mind for so charming an 
idyll. It was in the year 1851 that the Princess first met 
her future husband, Prince Frederick William of Prussia. 
In that year Europe was ringing with the wonders of the 
Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, that ironic herald of a 
decade of war, and the young Prince, sent by his father, 
the future King William I. of Prussia, to study the crown- 
ing triumph of Prince Albert's energetic idealism, was 
the guest of Queen Victoria. Very tall and broad, he was a 
fine figure of a man to captivate the heart of a young girl, 
and the touch of austerity imparted by a lonely upbringing 
may well have been an added charm to the young Princess. 
At this time he was barely twenty and had seen little of the 
world, but he was accompanied by a sister a year or two 
older, Princess Louise of Prussia, who was devoted to 
him. When this young German Princess became the firm 

3 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1851 friend of the Princess Royal and went about constantly 
with her, it followed that the three young people were often 
thrown together, the Princess Royal's youth protecting 
her from a vigilance which in those days would have 
been rigorously opposed to any idea of " self-determina- 
tion " in the affairs of the heart. 

1855 At the end of August 1855, Queen Victoria and Prince 
Albert paid a visit to the French Emperor, Napoleon IIL, 
in return for the visit he had paid them in the April of 
that year, and the Queen and her Consort took with them 
the Princess Royal, now fifteen years of age, and the 
Prince of Wales. This visit made a lasting impression on 
the young Princess. The English royal family were re- 
ceived with the greatest magnificence, and many of the 
beautiful sights of Paris were shown to them. Their im- 
perial host, now at the zenith of his power and popularity, 
was unremitting in attentive courtesies to his guests. " To 
the children, who behaved beautifully and had the most 
extraordinary success," Queen Victoria wrote to Baron 
Stockmar on September i, " his goodness, and judicious 
kindness, weregraz*, and they are excessively fond of him." 
" Leur sejour en France ", she wrote to the Emperor on 
August 29, " a ete la plus heureuse epoque de leur vie, et 
ils ne cessent d'en parler." Certainly the youthful Prin- 
cess did not forget the wonders of the visit, and fifteen 
years later, when disaster had made the Emperor a fugi- 
tive, the Princess recalled, with still vivid remembrance, 
the happiness of that week in Paris. 

It was Princess Augusta of Prussia, the mother of 
Prince Frederick, who had first suggested the possibility of 
a marriage, but when she proposed to visit England with 
the intention of discussing the matter, her uncle, Frederick 
William IV. of Prussia, influenced by his pro-Russian 
4 



BIRTH, EDUCATION, AND MARRIAGE 

consort, did not look upon the proposal with favour and 1855 
for the time being it remained in abeyance. At the period 
the Crimean War was in progress and the Russian lean- 
ings of the Prussian court rendered an English alliance 
uncongenial. 

Three weeks after their return home from France, 
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert welcomed to Balmoral 
Prince Frederick William, whose determination to marry 
the Princess Royal had only been strengthened by the 
opposition of the Prussian court. Prince Frederick, 
having won over his parents to his wishes, now decided 
to put his fortune to the test. Exacting as no doubt the 
Prince Consort was in his demands for an ideal son-in- 
law, he could find but little fault with this young German 
Prince, and the only opposition came from the Queen, 
who pleaded for delay on account of the extreme youth 
of her daughter. Her counsel of prudence seemed about 
to prevail when Prince Frederick refused to return home 
without coming to some understanding, and eventually, 
in response to his appeals, Queen Victoria gave way and 
permitted him to pay court to her daughter. The follow- 
ing day, September 21, 1855, Prince Albert wrote to the 
Earl of Clarendon : 

I may tell you in the strictest confidence that Prince Frederick 
William has yesterday laid before us his wish for an alliance with the 
Princess Royal, with the full concurrence of his parents, as well as of 
the King of Prussia. We have accepted his proposal as far as we are 
personally concerned, but have asked that the child should not be 
made acquainted with it until after her confirmation, which is to 
take place next Spring, when he might make it to her himself, and 
receive from her own lips the answer which is only valuable when 
flowing from those of the person chiefly concerned. A marriage 
would not be possible before the completion of the Princess's seven- 
teenth year, which is in two years from this time. The Queen 

5 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

empowers me to say that you may communicate this event to Lord 
Palrnerston, but we beg that under present circumstances it may be 
kept a strict secret. What the world may say we cannot help. 

The following day Queen Victoria wrote to the King 
of the Belgians: 

MY DEAREST UNCLE I profit by your own messenger to con- 
fide to you, and to you alone, begging you not to mention it to your 
children, that our wishes on the subject of a future marriage for 
Vicky have been realised in the most gratifying and satisfactory 
manner. 

On .Thursday (loth) after breakfast, Fritz Wilhelm said he was 
anxious to speak of a subject which he knew his parents had never 
broached to us which was to belong to our Family ; that this had 
long been his wish, that he had the entire concurrence and approval 
not only of his parents but of the King and that finding Vicky 
so allerlielste^ he could delay no longer in making this proposal, 
which, however, I have little indeed no doubt that she will gladly 
accept. He is a dear, excellent, charming young man, whom we 
shall give our dear child to with perfect confidence. What pleases 
us so greatly is to see that he is really delighted with Vicky. 

Nine days later Queen Victoria noted in her Journal : 
" Our dear Victoria was this day engaged to Prince 
Frederick William of Prussia, who had been on a visit to 
us since the i4th. He had already spoken to us on the 
loth of his wishes, but we were uncertain on account of 
her extreme youth, whether he should speak to her him- 
self or wait till he came back again. However, we felt 
it was better he should do so, and during our ride up 
Craig-na-Ban this afternoon, he picked a piece of white 
heather (the emblem of ' Good luck ') which he gave to 
her ; and this enabled him to make an allusion to his 
hopes and wishes as they rode down Glen Girnoch, which 
led to this happy conclusion." x 

1 Leaves from Our Journal in the Highlands, September 29, 1855. 



BIRTH, EDUCATION, AND MARRIAGE 

These letters make no reference to the feelings of the 1856 
Princess, but the assumption is not too far-fetched that 
far from objecting to the advances of the Prussian Prince 
she found in them a keen source of happiness. The 
engagement was kept secret, but rumour soon began to 
spread, and on March 20, 1856, Mr. Cobden wrote to a 
friend : 

... It is generally thought that the young Prince Frederick 
William of Prussia is to be married to our Princess Royal. I was 
dining tte-a-tete with Mr. Buchanan, the American Minister, a few 
days ago, who had dined the day before at the Queen's table and sat 
next to the Princess Royal. He was in raptures about her, and said 
she was the most charming girl he had ever met : " All life and 
spirit, full of frolic and fun, with an excellent head, and a heart as big 
as a mountain " those were his words. Another friend of mine, 
Colonel Fitzmayer, dined with the Queen last week, and in writing 
to me a description of the company he says that when the Princess 
Royal smiles ** it makes one feel as if additional light were thrown 
upon the scene " so I should judge that this said Prince is a lucky 
fellow and I trust he will make a good husband. If not, although a 
man of peace, I shall consider it a casus belli. 

Victorian caution, however, demanded that there 
should be still no mention of an engagement until the 
Princess had been confirmed her confirmation had been 
fixed for her seventeenth birthday. In point of fact, it 
took place six months earlier, on March 20, 1856, and 
a month later, on April 29, after the conclusion of the 
Crimean War, the -happy news was broadcast that the 
wedding of the Prince Frederick William and the Princess 
Royal would shortly take place. 

That spring, Prince Frederick, or " Fritz ", as he was 
known in the family circle, paid a long visit to his fiancee. 
" The only impression he gave one at that time ", noted 
an acute observer, " was that of a good-humoured, taking 

7 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1856 lieutenant, with large hands and feet, but not in the least 
clever." l Queen Victoria herself played the part of the 
unsleeping chaperon, a proceeding which, as she wrote 
to King Leopold, she found very boring, but endured it 
because she thought it was her duty ! " Every spare 
moment Vicky has ", she wrote on June 3, " (and I 
have, for I must chaperon this loving couple, which takes 
so much of my precious time) is devoted to her bride- 
groom who is so much in love that, even if he is out 
driving or walking with her, he is not satisfied, and says 
he has not seen her, unless he can have her for an hour 
to himself, when I am naturally bound to be acting as 
chaperon." 

At this period, Prussia, having well recovered from 
the Napoleonic wars and steadily increasing in pres- 
tige and commerce, was beginning to feel a little of that 
acute national pride which was to have such a stimulating 
effect after the Danish and French wars of the follow- 
ing decades, and the suggestion was made that the heir 
to the throne of the Hohenzollerns should be married in 
Berlin. Quick as the rapier thrust came the letter from 
Queen Victoria to Lord Clarendon (October 25, 1857) : 

1857 It would be well if Lord Clarendon would tell Lord Bloomfield 
[the British Minister in Berlin] not to entertain the possibility of 
such a question as the Princess Royal's marriage taking place at 
Berlin. The Queen never could consent to it, both for public and 
private reasons, and the assumption of its being too much for a 
Prince Royal of Prussia to come over to marry the Princess Royal 
of Great Britain in England is too absurd, to say the least. The 
Queen must say that there never was even the shadow of a doubt on 
Prince Frederick William's part, as to where the marriage should 
take place, and she suspects this to be mere gossip of the Berlinois. 
. . . Whatever may be the usual practice of Prussian Princes it is 

1 Mary Ponson&y, edited by Magdalen Ponsonby, p. 241. 




Jkt J 



from a Utiioyraph /W'/wVW ui 



BIRTH, EDUCATION, AND MARRIAGE 

not every day that one marries the eldest daughter of the Queen of 1857 
England. The question therefore must be considered as settled and 
closed. 

Against that verdict there was no appeal, and three 
months later, on January 25, 1858, in the Chapel Royal, at 1858 
St. James's Palace, the Princess Royal, who, as Sarah, 
Lady Lyttelton, records, displayed " not a bit of bridal 
missiness and flutter ", was married to Prince Frederick 
William of Prussia, and thus became the probable co- 
partner of the Prussian throne. 

The honeymoon was but a brief two days at Windsor, 
as was then the Royal custom. Thirty-six years later the 
Princess recalled to Bishop Boyd Carpenter her feelings 
at that time. " I remember ", she said, as she looked 
around the red brocade drawing-room which overlooks 
the Long Walk, " how we sat here two young innocent 
things almost too shy to talk to one another." x 

Eight days after the wedding Prince and Princess 
Frederick of Prussia left London for their new home in 
Berlin. The parting with her father and mother was an 
emotional trial for the Princess, who was bitterly sorry to 
leave England, " She has had ", wrote Queen Victoria to 
the King of the Belgians on January 12, 1858, " ever since 
January 1857, a succession of emotions and leave-takings 
most trying to anyone, but particularly to so young a 
girl with such very powerful feelings." A month later 
(February 9) she wrote : " The separation was awful and 
the poor child was quite brokenhearted at parting from 
her dearest beloved papa, whom she idolises ". The Prince 
Consort 2 was no less affected. He was losing not only 

1 The Empress Frederick : A Memoir, p. 68. 

2 Prince Albert had been created Prince Consort on June 25, 
1857. 

9 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1858 his favourite child, but also an adoring pupil and com- 
panion. There had been an ever-growing intellectual sym- 
pathy between them, and the father had communicated 
to the daughter not only his outlook on life, but also 
his political liberalism a gift which was likely to prove 
somewhat awkward to the Princess in future years. 

On arrival in Berlin, the youth of the Princess, her 
intelligence and charm, the romantic associations of her 
courtship, combined with the undoubted popularity of her 
husband, all found a popular utterance in the vociferous 
public welcome which greeted her wherever she went 
during those ensuing weeks. Her manner was singularly 
quiet and self-possessed, and she seemed to be able to find 
the right word to say to everyone and to be anxious to 
appreciate her husband's country. Even so, feeling ran so 
high in Prussian society against the " English " marriage, 
and especially at the court, that Lord and Lady Bloom- 
field, the then English Minister and his wife, in order to 
give no cause of offence to the Prussian King and Queen, 
made a point of avoiding the newly wedded Princess. 

A month or two later, Bismarck, then Prussian 
delegate to the Diet at Frankfort, wrote prophetically to 
General von Gerlach (April 8, 1858) : 

You ask me in your letter what I think of the English marriage. 
I must separate the two words to give you my opinion. The 
" English " in it does not please me, the " marriage " may be quite 
good, for the Princess has the reputation of a lady of brain and 
heart. If the Princess can leave the Englishwoman at home and 
become a Prussian, then she may be a blessing to the country. If 
our future Queen on the Prussian throne remains the least bit 
English, then I see our Court surrounded by English influence, 
and yet us, and the many other future sons-in-law of her gracious 
Majesty, receiving no notice in England save when the Opposition 
in Parliament runs down our Royal family and country. On the 
10 



BIRTH, EDUCATION, AND MARRIAGE 

other hand, with us, British influence will find a fruitful soil in the 1858 
noted admiration of the German " Michael " for lords and guineas, 
in the Anglomania of papers, sportsmen, country gentlemen, etc. 
Every Berliner feels exalted when a real English jockey from Hart 
or Lichtwald speaks to him and gives him an opportunity of break- 
ing the Queen's English on a wheel What will it be like when the 
first lady in the land is an Englishwoman ? x 

Walburga, Countess von Hohenthal, who became one 
of the Princess's ladies-in-waiting, and who later married 
Sir Augustus Paget, British Ambassador in Rome and 
Vienna, gives a charming picture in her book of reminis- 
cences, Scenes and Memories, of her royal mistress as she 
looked at the time of her marriage : 

The Princess appeared extraordinarily young. All the childish 
roundness still clung to her and made her look shorter than she 
really was. She was dressed in a fashion long disused on the 
continent, in a plum-coloured silk dress fastened at the back. Her 
hair was drawn off her forehead. Her eyes were what struck me 
most ; the iris was green like the sea on a sunny day, and the white 
had a peculiar shimmer which gave them the fascination that, 
together with a smile that showed her small and beautiful teeth, 
bewitched those who approached her. The nose was unusually 
small and turned up slightly, and the complexion was ruddy, per- 
haps too much so for one thing, but it gave the idea of perfect 
health and strength. The fault of the face lay in the squareness of 
the lower features, and there was even a look of determination 
about the chin, but the very gentle and almost timid manner pre- 
vented one realising this at first. The voice was very delightful, 
never going up to high tones, but lending a peculiar charm to the 
slight foreign accent with which the Princess spoke both English 
and German. 

Already she possessed an intensely vivid and interest- 
ing personality. The restraints of her position had not 
stunted or crushed her intellectual or spiritual growth, nor 
her natural enthusiasm and inexhaustible energy. On the 

1 The Empress Frederick : A Memoir^ pp. 41-42. 

II 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1858 contrary, there were those who feared that her manifold 
interests and activities would result in a dilettantism that 
would be hard to cure. Such a development, however, 
was not possible with such a husband the kind, grave 
Frederick whose influence upon her was to lead her to 
the fields of philanthropy and the application of art to 
industry. 

Gradually the enthusiasm subsided Prussia settled 
down to its new Princess, and the Princess endeavoured 
to settle down to Prussia. Here, however, came the first 
suspicion of a cloud on the horizon. The aristocratic, 
despotic institutions of Prussia were strangely opposed to 
the democratic tradition which had sprung up in England 
since the passing of the first Reform Bill in 1832, and it 
was the hope of the youthful Princess that she might help 
her husband to lead the way to democratic reforms on 
the English lines. 



12 



CHAPTER II 
EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

THE country that the Princess Frederick now adopted 1858 
as her own was, in 1858, a second-rate European state. 
Prussia was in fact not to be compared in power, wealth 
or security with the Princess's native land. During the 
Napoleonic wars, Prussia, a shadow of her former self 
and pushed back behind the Elbe, suffered indignities at 
the hands of the French which even now have not been 
forgotten. But the close of the struggle with Fiance found 
her regenerated and imbued with a strong spirit of nation- 
ality and with her territories extended by the addition 
of the grand-duchy of Posen, Swedish Pomerania, the 
northern part of Saxony, the duchies of Westphalia and 
Berg and the Rhine country between Aachen and Mainz. 
Even then Prussia had a population of only about seven- 
teen millions. 

The first step towards German unity was taken a 
few years later, when Prussia instituted the Zollverein 
or Customs Union, to which by 1842 all the Ger- 
manic States except Mecklenburg, Hanover and Austria 
acceded. With this statesmanlike step Prussian influence 
increased enormously and Frederick William IV., who 
ascended the throne in 1840, made Berlin a centre of 
learning and natural science. His extravagant views on 
the subject of royal powers led, however, to the revolu- 
tionary movement in 1848 and to the preparation of a 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1858 new constitution, which endeavoured to combine the 
French prefect system with Prussian mediaevalism. 

Prussia was now fast becoming a " Prussianised " state 
whereas England had been becoming more and more 
liberal and progressive. Further, Germany, as the term 
was then understood, included an extraordinary number 
of petty and impotent principalities, dukedoms and other 
states, each with its ruling family, and for the most part 
as poor as they were proud. On the borders of Prussia 
and Denmark were two duchies which were proving an 
ever-growing source of friction. These two duchies of 
Schleswig and Holstein had for centuries been deemed 
indivisible, yet the King of Denmark was Duke of 
Schleswig and of Holstein, while the population was 
largely German, and Holstein was a member of the Ger- 
man Federation. Efforts to incorporate these provinces 
in Denmark led to a revolution in which Prussia success- 
fully took the side of the insurgents, but the result was 
merely the seven months' truce of Malmo which remained 
unratified by the parliament of Frankfort. 

Thus at the time of the Princess RoyaPs marriage, 
there were three outstanding questions of importance in 
Prussia ; the first was the leadership of the Germanic 
states, the second was the question as to whether Prussia 
was to remain stationary or to advance along liberal lines 
similar to those which England had adopted, and the 
third was the future of the duchies of Schleswig and Hol- 
stein. From the outset it was evident that with regard to 
the second question the influence of the Princess would 
be on the side of the progressive liberal elements. 

The German court, of which the Princess was now a 
leading member, was singularly unlike the English court, 
which at this period was cheerful and young. Not yet 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

was Queen Victoria overwhelmed by the loss of her 1858 
husband that plunged the court into a forty years' gloom ; 
it was a happy eager court, high-toned and bright. By 
contrast, the Prussian court was formal, stiff, and boring: 
the life was monotonous, the palaces gloomy and uncom- 
fortable and the ceremonies interminable. The honest 
and sagacious Regent of Prussia, known to history as 
William L, had begun to feel that he was getting old, and 
that feeling echoed through the court. In his consort, 
however, then known as the Princess (Augusta) of 
Prussia, the Princess Frederick had for many years a true 
friend and ally, who belonged, in an intellectual sense, to 
the eighteenth rather than the nineteenth century. Prin- 
cess Augusta * knew French as well as she knew German, 
and among her intimates were many Catholics. As a 
young woman she was full of heart and warmth of feeling, 
but she had soon learnt that which her daughter-in-law 
never entirely succeeded in learning, that circumspection 
and prudence were essential at the Prussian court, and 
she took no great part in the affairs of state. 

During the Crimean War, when the whole of the 
Prussian court was pro-Russian, Princess Augusta had 
been pro-English a fact which naturally endeared her 
to Queen Victoria, but which had made her Prussian 
relatives suspicious and angry. When the Princess 
Frederick arrived in Berlin as the bride of the King of 
Prussia's heir-presumptive, the Crimean War was already 
being forgotten, and the joyous simplicity and youthful 
charm of the Princess silenced criticism, at any rate for a 
time. 

The Princess Frederick spent her first winter in Berlin 

1 The fact that Jules Laforgue, the French poet, was appointed 
reader to her shows that she had literary tastes. 

15 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1858 in the Old Schloss, which had not been lived in for a 
considerable time, and was singularly below the Victorian 
standard of living, hygiene and comfort. The young 
couple were allotted a suite of ornate but very dark and 
gloomy rooms ; the Princess, who had always been en- 
couraged to turn her quick mind to practical matters, and 
who delighted in creating and making, found her plans 
for improvement blocked at every turn owing to the fact 
that nothing could be done in the Old Schloss not even 
a bathroom added without the direct permission of the 
insane King. 

Not only did the Princess feel uncomfortable in these 
gloomy and haunted chambers, but she felt " cribbed, 
cabined and confined " in the narrow etiquette of the 
Prussian court At " home ", as she soon very unwisely 
began to speak of England, she had been used to say 
everything she thought from childhood upwards, sure of 
not being misunderstood, and her habitual honesty and 
frankness now proved a point of censure to her critical 
German relatives. Unfortunately this difficulty of re- 
straining her English feelings did not become easier with 
the passage of years. Small things got on her nerves ; 
German boots, the want of baths, the thin silver plate 
and the amount of boring etiquette. Although wishing 
to love her husband's country and to overcome her pre- 
dilections, she always kept her love for England. In a 
letter from Potsdam in 1871, she says : 

You cannot think how dull and melancholy and queer I feel 
away from you all and from beloved England ! Each time I get 
there I feel my attachment to that precious bit of earth grow 
stronger and stronger. . . . Going away and returning here always 
causes a commotion in my feelings which wants a little time and 
reasoning to one's self to get over. 1 

1 Mary Ponsonby, p. 242. 
16 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

Above all she could not understand the rigid Prussianism 1858 
of the Prussian reactionary party, and quite early it was 
noted that " the very approach of a Tory or a reactionary 
seemed to freeze her up ". 

A few months later, the Prince and Princess set up a 
modest establishment more on English lines at the Castle 
of Babelsberg, and here the Princess was much happier in 
her surroundings. The little Castle, seated on the side 
of a wooded hill, about three miles from Potsdam, 
overlooked a fine expanse of water, and commanded a 
charming view of the surrounding country. " Everything 
there ", wrote Queen Victoria on her first visit, " is very 
small, a Gothic bijou, full of furniture, and flowers 
(creepers), which they arrange very prettily round screens, 
and lamps and pictures. There are many irregular turrets 
and towers and steps." * 

Early in June Prince Albert visited his daughter and 
son-in-law at Babelsberg, and wrote to Queen Victoria : 
" The relation between the young people is all that can 
be desired. I have had long talks with them both, singly 
and together, which gave me the greatest satisfaction/' 

Two months later, Queen Victoria and the Prince 
Consort paid a visit of some length to their daughter. 
The Queen herself described the visit as " quite private 
and unofficial", but she was accompanied by Lord 
Malmesbury, the Foreign Secretary in Lord Derby's 
newly formed ministry, and by Lord Clarendon, his pre- 
decessor, and Lord Granville, who had been President 
of the Council in Palmerston's government. Queen Vic- 
toria was delighted to meet the gigantic Field-Marshal 
Wrangel, then seventy-six years of age, who had actually 
carried the colours of his regiment at Leipzig in 1814, 

1 The Empress Frederick : A Memoir, pp. 91-92. 

c 17 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

and had, in 1848, as commandant of the troops, dissolved 
the Berlin assembly by force. " He was ", wrote Queen 
Victoria, " full of Vicky and the marriage, and said she 
was an angel." 

On November 20, 1858, the Prince and Princess 
Frederick moved from Babelsberg into the palace in 
Unter den Linden, which became their Berlin residence. 
The Princess Frederick was delighted with her new home, 
but, as in the case of the Old Schloss, the palace required 
to be brought up to modern standards of comfort, and it 
was still difficult to get any alterations approved by the 
old and moody King, who refused one day what he 
had promised the day before. At last assent was obtained 
to those alterations which were absolutely urgent, and 
the Princess spent many happy days in rearranging her 
new home. 

These first years at the Prussian court were spent in 
the calm routine of home with the periodical public 
activities that took up such a large proportion of her time. 
Even manoeuvres, where she appeared on horseback, were 
within her function, and in November 1858 the Duchess 
of Manchester, herself an Hanoverian by birth, and who 
afterwards married the Duke of Devonshire, wrote happily 
from Hanover to Queen Victoria : 

Though Your Majesty has only very lately seen the Princess 
Royal, I cannot refrain from addressing Your Majesty, as I am sure 
Your Majesty will be pleased to hear how well Her Royal Highness 
was looking during the manoeuvres on the Rhine and how much 
she seems to be beloved not only by all those who know her, but 
also by those who have only seen and heard of her the English 
could not help feeling proud of the way the Princess Royal was 
spoken of and the high esteem she is held in. For one so young it 
is a most flattering position, and certainly as the Princess's charm 
of manner and her kind unaffected words, had in that short time 
18 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

won her the "hearts of all the officers and strangers present, one is 1858 
not astonished at the praise the Prussians themselves bestow on 
Her Royal Highness. The Royal Family is large and their opinions 
politically and socially sometimes so different that it must have 
been very difficult indeed at first for the Princess Royal, and people 
therefore cannot praise enough the high principles, great discretion, 
and judgment and cleverness Her Royal Highness has invariably 
displayed. 

Your Majesty would have been amused to hear General "Wrangel 
tell, at the top of his voice, how delighted the soldiers were to see 
the Princess on horseback and the interest she showed for them 
what pleased them especially was to see Her Royal Highness ride 
without a veil. Such an odd thing in soldiers to remark. The King 
of Prussia is looking very well, but the Queen, I thought, very 
much altered. Her Majesty looks very pale and tired and has such 
a painful drawn look about the mouth. . . . Their Majesties* kind- 
ness was very great and the Duke told me of the extreme hospitality 
with which they were entertained. Everyone high and low were 
rivalling each other in civility and friendship towards the strangers, 
especially the English, and one really felt quite ashamed of those 
wanton attacks the Times always makes on Prussia and which are 
read and copied into all the Prussian papers. . . . 

A happy domestic event occurred on January 27, 1859 
1859, when a son and heir was born to the Prince and 
Princess Frederick. Great were the rejoicings, for in the 
normal run of events the boy would become King of 
Prussia in succession to his grand-uncle, grandfather and 
father. 

For a time, however, mother and child were in 
imminent danger, and, as Prince Albert wrote to King 
Leopold, " Poor Fritz and the Prince and Princess (of 
Prussia) must have undergone terrible anxiety, as they 
had no hope of the birth of a living child ". It was not 
until the third day that it was perceived that the child's 
left arm was paralysed, the shoulder-socket injured and 
the surrounding muscles severely bruised. Medical know- 

19 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1859 ledge was in so elementary a state then that no doctor 
would venture to attempt the readjustment of the limb, 
which remained feeble and almost, if not entirely, useless. 1 
On this child, her first-born, the Princess lavished all her 
maternal care, and a fortnight later (February 12) the 
Princess wrote to her mother : 

I use dear Countess Bliicher's hand, by Wegner's 2 permission, 
to answer your dear letter just arrived, and I cannot describe my 
pleasure at being again able in a more direct way to convey my 
thoughts to you, and to be able at last to thank you for all your 
tenderness and all your love shown to me so unceasingly during 
this time. How deeply it has touched, cheered and delighted me, 
and how very grateful I feel to you and papa, I need not say. Your 
letters have been the greatest comfort to me, and I thank you for 
them a thousand times. How much I thought of you on the loth, 
and wished to have been able to write to you. Fritz conveyed all 
my wishes I hope. . . . 

I fear I may not dictate any more today, dear Mama, and so I 
will only say that your little grandson is very well. 

A further reference to her " exceedingly lively " son 
occurs in the letter written by the Princess Frederick to 
Queen Victoria on February 28 : 

Your grandson [she wrote] is exceedingly lively and when 
awake will not be satisfied unless kept dancing about continually. 
He scratches his face and tears his caps and makes every sort of 
extraordinary little noise. I am so thankful, so happy, he is a boy. 
I longed for one more than I can describe, my whole heart was set 
upon a boy and therefore I did not expect one. I cannot say I think 
him like anyone at present, although now and then he reminds me 
of Bertie and of Leopold, which I fear you won't like. I feel very 
proud of him and very proud of being a Mama. . . , 

The infant prince was christened a week later. Queen 
Victoria, as she wrote to her " Dearest Uncle ", the King 

1 Lucien von Balihausen, JSismarcks Erinnerungen, p. 74. 

2 One of the German doctors in attendance on the Princess. 
20 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

of the Belgians, was almost heartbroken at not being able 1859 
to witness the christening of her first grandchild, and 
railed against the " stupid law in Prussia " which was " so 
particular in having the child christened so soon ". On 
the day of the christening, March 5, Lady Bloomfield,wife 
of the British Minister in Berlin, wrote to Queen Victoria : 

I am this instant returned from the christening of His Royal 
Highness Frederick William Victor Albert, and lose no time in 
writing a few lines to tell Your Majesty that everything went off 
as well as possible. I had a very good place close to the door of the 
Chapel (which only contained the members of the Royal Family) 
and the dear baby looked so pretty and never cried at all. It seemed 
very much taken up with the Prince Regent's Orders and kept 
moving its little hands as if it wanted to play with them. The dis- 
course which was pronounced by Hof Prediger Straus was not too 
long and very well adapted to the occasion, and I was so happy at 
last after the ceremony to be allowed to kiss the dear Princess's 
hand. I have been so longing to see her, if only for a minute. Her 
Royal Highness looks well, and not thin in the face, but she seemed 
flushed and nervous, and her voice is still weak, so that I am quite 
sure she still requires considerable care, and I only trust today's 
fatigue will not have been too much for her. She was sitting close 
to the baby's bassinet and I so wished your Majesty could have 
been present. During the whole of this interesting time I have so 
often felt how very trying it must be for Your Majesty to be absent, 
but thank God all has prospered and I trust ere long Your Majesty 
will have the happiness of seeing the dear Princess restored to 
perfect health and strength. I have no doubt Her Royal Highness 
will pick up much more rapidly as soon as she begins to go out. . . . 

The birth of the Prince resulted in the family moving 
to Neue Palais at Potsdam, where Prince Frederick had 
been born, and which became for many years the happy 
home of the Princess. 

In summer of that year Prince and Princess Frederick 
came to England to spend a holiday at Osborne with the 
British royal family. The Princess's eldest brother, the 

21 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1859 Prince of Wales, was at this time nearing his eighteenth 
birthday, and opinion held that it was high time a suitable 
princess were found for him. Princess Frederick was at 
first of opinion that there did not exist in this world 
anyone good enough to become her brother's wife, but 
she changed her mind when the beauty and endear- 
ing graces of Alexandra, daughter of Prince Christian 
of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg, 1 were 
pressed by her own lady-in-waiting, Countess von 
Hohenthal (Walburga, Lady Paget), and it was quickly 
arranged that the Princess Frederick should meet Princess 
Alexandra informally at Strelitz, and here in the palace 
of a second cousin on both sides, the Grand Duchess of 
Mecklenburg-Strelitz, a meeting followed. 

The Princess Frederick declared herself to be "quite 
enchanted " with " the most fascinating creature in the 
world " 2 who, as she wrote to her mother, was bound to 
succeed in the competition for her brother's hand. 3 But 
for the moment the project hung fire. All admitted the 
right of the Prince to make his own choice, and the 
Princess Frederick returned to Berlin with the conscious- 
ness of having done what she could to further an ideal 
match. 

Among the Princess's friends in Germany at this 
period was an Englishman, Robert Morier, who had 
held various diplomatic appointments at German courts 
and had acquired an unrivalled intimacy with German 
politics. Prince Albert had formed a high opinion of his 
character and abilities in 1858, and at the time of the 
Princess's marriage had done everything in his power to 

1 Later King Christian IX. of Denmark. 

2 Walburga, Lady Paget, Embassies of other Days^ i. 328 seg. 
8 Sir Sidney Lee, Life of King Edward V1L vol. i. p. 120. 

22 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

have Morier appointed an attache at the British Embassy 1859 
at Berlin. Gifted with a rare power for pungency in ex- 
pression, Morier's frankness quickly won the esteem of 
the Princess. 

Morier had another good friend in the Princess of 
Prussia, the Princess Frederick's mother-in-law, and it 
was at her wish, expressed to Lord Clarendon, that the 
young man was sent to Berlin in order that he might be 
of use to her son and daughter-in-law. Morier was also 
on intimate terms with Ernest von Stockmar (son of the 
redoubtable Baron Stockmar, the counsellor of the Prince 
Consort), who at the same time was appointed private 
secretary to the Princess. 

Morier's appointment was the beginning of a lifelong 
intimacy with Prince and Princess Frederick. He became 
and remained one of their most trusted friends and 
advisers, a fact which undoubtedly injured his diplo- 
matic career. Probably because Morier had a remark- 
ably strong and original personality, he at once aroused 
jealousy, dislike and suspicion ; he was even said to in- 
fluence unduly Prince Frederick through the Princess. 
When, many years later, it was proposed that Sir Robert 
Morier, as he had then become, should be appointed 
Ambassador in Berlin, his name was the only one 
which was absolutely vetoed by the then all-powerful 
Bismarck. 

In June 1859 the war between Austria and the allied 
French and Sardinian armies broke out, and for the first 
time the Princess Frederick saw her husband prepare for 
war. The Prince Regent, while declaring the neutrality 
of Prussia, cautiously ordered a mobilisation of the 
Prussian army, and Major-General Prince Frederick 
William went off to his command over the First Infantry 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1859 Division of Guards, Fortunately the rapid defeat of the 
Austrians at Solferino brought the Peace of Villafranca 
in July, and the Prussian army returned to its peace 
footing. The defeat of Austria, however, raised anew the 
question of German hegemony. 

In the November of 1859 the Princess came again to 
England with her husband. " Vicky ", as her father wrote 
of her to the Dowager Duchess of Coburg, " has de- 
veloped greatly of late and yet remains quite a child ! " 
" She talked ", recorded her old governess, Sarah, Lady 
Lyttelton, " much of her baby/' x 

1 860 The year 1 860 added further happiness to the lot of the 
Princess Frederick. In the July of that year her eldest 
daughter, the Princess Charlotte, was born. Late in the 
September Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were joined 
at Coburg by the Princess Frederick, and it was on this 
visit that Queen Victoria first saw her eldest grandchild. 
Writing on September 25 she says : 

Our darling grandchild was brought Such a little love! He 
came walking in at Mrs. Hobbs's (his nurse's) hand, in a little white 
dress with black bows, and was so good. He is a fine, fat child, with 
a beautiful white soft skin, very fine shoulders and limbs, and a very 
dear face, like Vicky and Fritz, and also Louise of Baden. He has 
Fritz's eyes and Vicky's mouth, and very fair curly hair. We felt 
so happy to see him at last! 2 

This was the beginning of an enduring friendship 
between grandmother and grandson, and in the letters of 
Queen Victoria there is constant reference to her grand- 
child i whom she calls " Dear little William ", " a darling 
child ", and adds that he is a " dear little boy, is so 
intelligent and pretty, so good and affectionate ". 

1 The Empress Frederick : A Memoir \ p. 115. 

2 Ibid. p. 123. 
24 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

In modelling and arranging the nursery for her two 1860 
children, the Princess Frederick, as was perhaps to be 
expected, preferred to follow English rather than German 
lines and ideas a proceeding that was viewed with dis- 
approval by those ardent innovation-resisting Prussians 
who constituted the conservative party. The dislike of 
the high-born Prussian for anything that was English was 
perhaps only equalled by the dislike of a certain section of 
the English press for anything that was Prussian. The 
Prince Consort, who dreamt of a united Germany under 
Prussian leadership which should guarantee the peace of 
the world with England, was seriously disturbed by the 
attacks which The Times was constantly making on Prussia 
and everything Prussian. An article in the Saturday 
Review which he recommended to his daughter to read, 
said that " The only reason The Times ever gives for its 
dislike of Prussia, is that the Prussian and English courts 
are connected by personal ties, and that British independ- 
ence demands that everything proceeding from the Court 
should be watched with the most jealous suspicion". The 
same argument could have been applied to Prussian 
opinion. Naturally this animosity materially affected the 
position of the Princess in Prussia, and she gradually 
found herself being disliked more and more for two 
reasons the first that she was English and could not 
forget it, and the second that she loved English political 
and sanitary ideas. 

Meanwhile, the Prince Consort, in spite of many poli- 
tical and other anxieties and a sharp attack of illness, con- 
tinued to instruct his daughter in the art of government, 
and many and long were the letters he addressed to his 
still adoring pupil and daughter. These letters, with their 
liberal ideas, perhaps helped to make the position of the 

25 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1860 Princess more difficult. The ideal woman in Prussia was 
then one who, conscious of her intellectual inferiority, 
contented herself with " Kiiche, Kinderstube, Kranken- 
stube und Kirche und sonst nichts". If this view ob- 
tained with regard to women in private stations, much 
more was it considered to be the duty of princesses 
of the Royal House to abstain from any active interest 
in public affairs. It is strange that the Prince Consort, 
with his knowledge of Prussian traditions, did not appre- 
ciate this. It is possible that he thought his daughter to be 
freed by her exceptional ability from the ordinary restric- 
tions and limitations of her rank. Still more, perhaps, he 
was anxious to give his son-in-law, in the troublous times 
that seemed impending, an helpmeet who could influence 
him in the right Coburgian direction. Whatever may have 
been the reason, the Prince certainly continued to the end 
of his life to cultivate his daughter's knowledge and grasp 
of public affairs. 

The Princess replied to these learned fatherly epistles 
at equal length. In the December of 1860 the Prince 
Consort received from Berlin a long and able memor- 
andum upon the advantages of a law of ministerial re- 
sponsibility, drafted so as to remove the apprehensions 
entertained in high quarters at the Prussian court as to 
the expediency of such a measure. This memorandum 
was the work of the Princess Frederick, and it is easy to 
imagine what a storm of indignation would have arisen 
in Prussia if by any accident or indiscretion the know- 
ledge that the Princess had written such a paper had 
leaked out. 1 

The preceding months had altered in very few respects 
the position of the Princess, but an event was now draw- 

1 The Empress Frederick : A Memoir ', p. 127. 
26 




i860 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

ing near that was to put her in a position of greater 1861 
influence. By the end of 1860 it was apparent that 
the insane King Frederick William IV. of Prussia was 
seriously ill, and with the turn of the year there was a 
sudden and critical change for the worse, his death follow- 
ing quickly. The event moved the Princess Frederick 
profoundly, as it was really her first sight of death. 
After a broken night and day of watching by the bedside 
of the King, the Princess was awakened at one o'clock on 
the morning of January 2, but before she could arrive at 
the King's chamber life had flown. That day the Princess 
wrote from Potsdam to Queen Victoria : 

At last I can find a moment for myself to sit down and collect 
my thoughts and to write to you an account of these two last 
dreadful days ! My head is in such a state, I do not know where I 
am hardly whether I am in a dream or awake, what is yesterday 
and what today ! What we have so long expected has come at last ! 
All the confusion, busde, excitement, noise, etc., is all swallowed 
up in the one thought for me. 

I have seen death for the first time ! It has made an impression 
upon me that I shall never never forget as long as I live and I feel 
so ill, so confused and upset by all that I have gone through in the 
last forty-eight hours that you must forgive me if I write incoher- 
ently and unclearly ! But to go back to Monday evening (it seems 
to me a year now). At a quarter to eight in the evening of Monday 
the 31 st, I took dear darling Affie 1 to the railway station and took 
leave of him with a heavy heart. You know I love that dear boy 
distractedly and that nothing could have given me more pleasure 
than his dear long-wished-for visit. At 9 o'clock Fritz and I went 
to tea at the Prince Regent's, we four were alone together. The 
Princess (of Prussia) was rather low and unwell, the Prince low 
spirited and I thinking of nothing but Affie and of how dear he is 
while we were sitting at tea we received bad news from Sans Souci, 
but nothing to make us particularly uneasy. Fritz and I went home 
and to bed not being in a humour to sit up till 12. About half 

1 Prince Alfred, later Duke of Edinburgh. 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1861 past one we heard a knock at the door and my wardrobe maid 
brought In a telegram saying the King was given up, and a note 
from the Prince Regent, saying he was going immediately. We 
got up in the greatest hurry and dressed I hardly know how. I 
put on just what I found and had not time to do my hair or any- 
thing. After we had hurried on our clothes we went down stairs 
and out for there was no time to get a carriage, or a Footman 
or anything it was a splendid night, but 12 degrees of cold 
(Re*aumur). I thought I was in a dream, finding myself alone in 
the street with Fritz at 2 o'clock at night. We went to the Prince 
Regent's and then with them in their carriages to the railway 
station. We four all alone in the train. We arrived at Sans Souci 
and went directly into the room where the King lay the stillness 
of death was in the room only the light of the fire and of a dim 
lamp. We approached the bed and stood there at the foot of it, not 
daring to look at one another, or to say a word. The Queen was 
sitting in an arm chair at the head of the bed, her arm underneath 
the King's head, and her head on the same pillow on which he 
lay with her other hand she continually wiped the perspiration 
from his forehead. You might have heard a pin drop no sound 
was heard, but the crackling of the fire and the death rattle that 
dreadful sound which goes to one's heart and which tells plainly 
that life is ebbing. This rattling in the throat lasted about an hour 
longer and then the King lay motionless the Doctors bent their 
heads low to hear whether he still breathed and we stood, not even 
daring to sit down, watching the death struggle. Every now and 
then the King breathed very fast and loud, but never unclosed his 
eyes he was very red in the face and the cold perspiration pour- 
ing from his forehead. I never spent such an awful time, and to 
see the poor Queen sitting there quite rent my heart 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 
struck and we were still standing there one member of the 
Royal Family came in after the other and remained motionless 
in the room, sobs only breaking the stillness. Oh it is dreadful 
to see a person die, all the thoughts and feelings that crowded 
on my mind in those hours I cannot describe; they impressed 
me more than anything in my whole past lifetime! the light 
of the morning dawned and the lamps were taken away. Oh 
how sad for the first morning in the year ! We all went into the 
next room, for I assure you, anxiety, watching, standing and cry- 

28 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

ing had quite worn us out. The Princess fell asleep on a chair, 1861 
I on a sofa, and the rest walked up and down the room, asking 
one another " How long will it last ? " Towards the middle of the 
day Marianne and I went into the room alone, as we wished to 
stay there, we came up and kissed the Queen's hand and knelt 
down and kissed the King's it was quite warm still 1 We stood 
about and waited till 5 o'clock and then had some dinner, and I 
felt so sick and faint and unwell, that Fritz sent me here to bed. 
At i o'clock this morning I got up and dressed and heard that the 
King had not many minutes more to live, but by the time I had 
got the carriage I heard all was over. I drove to Sans Souci and 
saw the King and Queen. May God bless and preserve them and 
may theirs be a long and happy and blessed reign 1 Then I went 
into the room where the King lay, and I could hardly bring my- 
self to go away again. There was so much of comfort in looking 
there at that quiet peaceful form at rest at last after all he had 
suffered gone home at last from this world of suffering so 
peaceful and quiet he looked like a sleeping child every moment 
I expected to see him move or breathe his mouth and eyes closed 
and such a sweet and happy expression both his hands were on 
the coverlet. I kissed them both for the last time they were 
quite cold then. Fritz and I stood looking at him for some time. 
I could hardly bring myself to believe that this was really death, 
that which I had so often shuddered at and felt afraid of there 
was nothing there dreadful or appalling only a heavenly calm 
and peace. I felt it did me so much good and was such a comfort. 
" Death where is thy sting, grave where is thy Victory?" He was 
a just and good man and had a heart overflowing with love and 
kindness, and he has gone to his rest after a long trial which he 
bore with so much patience I I am not afraid of death now, and 
when I feel inclined to be so, I shall think of that solemn and 
comforting sight, and that death is only a change for the better. 
We went home and to bed and this morning went there at 10. I 
sat some time with the poor Queen, who is so calm and resigned 
and touching in her grief. She does not cry, but she looks heart- 
broken. She said to me, " I am no longer of any use in this world. 
I have no longer any vocation, any duties to perform, and only 
lived for him." Then she was so kind to me, kinder than she has 
ever been yet, and said I was like her own child and a comfort to 

29 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1861 her ! I saw the corpse again this morning, he is unaltered, only 
changed in colour and the hands are stiffened. The funeral will 
be on Saturday, the King will He in State till then, his wish was 
to be buried in Friedens Kirche before the Altar and his heart 
at Charlottenburg in the Mausoleum. 

When it is remembered that the writer of this letter 
was only twenty, its poignancy, and the simple, unstudied 
vividness of the scene in the death-chamber are re- 
markable. But the letter also shows the nobleness of 
the Princess's outlook on life. Her sympathy with the 
bereaved Queen Elizabeth was profound, and their grief 
brought them together as perhaps nothing else could have 
done. 

Two months later (March 1861) the unexpected death 
of the Duchess of Kent deprived the Princess of a 
grandmother with whom were associated many of the 
happy events of her childhood and girlhood. On receiv- 
ing the sudden news, the Princess started at once for 
England, not entirely with the approval of her father-in- 
law. The Prince Consort, who in this matter of his 
daughter's relations to her father-in-law always showed 
exceptional tact, wrote and thanked the King : " Her stay 
here has been a great comfort and delight to us in our 
sorrow and bereavement, and we are truly grateful for 
it". 1 

Seven months later the new King of Prussia, William 
I., and his consort, Queen Augusta, were crowned at 
Konigsberg with fitting ceremonial. The following day 
(October 19, 1861) the Crown Princess (as the Princess 
Frederick now became), in a letter to her mother, gave 
a remarkably vivid and picturesque account of the cere- 
mony, from which humour was not absent. The fact that 

1 The Empress Frederick: A Memoir, p. 138. 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

the day chosen was her husband's birthday gave her 1861 
great pleasure. 

I should like [she wrote] to be able to describe yesterday's 
ceremony to you, but I cannot find words to tell you how fine 
and how touching it was, it really was a magnificent sight. The 
King looked so very handsome and so noble with the crown on 
it seemed to suit him so exactly. The Queen too looked beautiful 
and did all she had to do with such perfect grace, and looked so 
vornehm. . . . The moment when the King put the crown on the 
Queen's head was so touching that I think there was hardly a dry 
eye in the church. The Schloss Hof was the finest, I thought five 
bands playing " God save the Queen ", banners waving in all 
directions, cheers so loud that they quite drowned the sound of 
the music, and the procession moving slowly on, the sky without 
a cloud, and all the uniforms, and ladies* diamonds glittering in 
the bright sunlight. I shall never forget it all, it was so very fine. 

Dearest Fritz's birthday being chosen for the day made me very 
happy he was in a great state of emotion and excitement as you 
can imagine, as we all were. . . . 

The coup d 3 'ceil was really beautiful, the Chapel is in itself lovely, 
with a great deal of gold about it, and all hung with red velvet 
and gold the carpet, altar, throne and canopies the same the 
Knights of the Black Eagle with red velvet cloaks, the Queen's 
four young ladies all alike in white and gold, the two Palastdamen 
in crimson velvet and gold, and the Oberhofmeister in gold and 
white brocade with green velvet, Marianne and Addy in red and 
gold and red and silver. I in gold with ermine and white satin, 
my ladies one in blue velvet, the other in red velvet, and Countess 
Schulenburg together with the two other Oberhofmeisterinnen of 
the other Princesses in violet velvet and gold. All these colours 
together looked very beautiful, and the sun shone, or rather poured 
in at the high windows and gave quite magic tinges. The music 
was very fine and the chorals were sung so loud and strong that it 
really quite moved one. The King was immensely cheered wherever 
he appeared also the Queen and even I. ... 

The King and Queen were most kind to me yesterday. The King 
gave me a lock of his hair in a charming little locket, and, only think, 
what will sound most extraordinary, absurd and incredible to your 
ears, made me 2nd ChefcA the 2nd Regt. of Hussars. I laughed so 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1861 much because I really thought it was a joke it seems so strange for 
ladies, but the Regts. like particularly having ladies for their Chefs. 
The Queen and the Queen Dowager have Regiments, but I believe 
I am the first Princess on whom such an honour is conferred. . . . 

Half Europe is here and one sees the funniest combinations in 
the world it is like a " happy family " 1 shut up in a cage. The 
Italian Ambassador sat next Cardinal Geissel, and the French one 
opposite the Archduke. The Grand Duke Nicholas is here he 
is so nice. Also the Crown Prince of Wurtemberg, Crown Prince 
of Saxony, Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, Prince Charles of Hesse 
(who nearly dies of fright and shyness amongst so many people), 
Heinrich, Prince Elimar of Oldenburg, Prince Frederick of the 
Netherlands and the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Weimar 
and wish to be most particularly remembered to you and Papa. 

The King and Queen are most kind to Lord Clarendon, and 
make a marked difference between their cordiality to him and the 
stiff etiquette with which the other Ambassadors are received. I 
think he is pleased with what he sees. The King has given the 
Queen the Order of the Black Eagle in diamonds. I write all these 
details as you wish them, at the risk of their not interesting you, 
besides my being, as you know, a very bad hand at descriptions. . . . 

The State Dinner last night looked very well. We were waited on 
by our Kammerherren and Pages the King being waited on by the 
Oberhofchargen, our ladies stood behind our chairs after the first 
two dishes are round, the King asks to drink, and that is the signal for 
the ladies and gentlemen to leave the room and go to dinner, while 
the Pages of Honour continue to serve the whole dinner, really 
wonderfully well, poor boys considering it is no easy task. . . . 

Fritz would thank you for your dear letters himself, but he is 
at the University where they have elected him " Rector Magnificus" 
and he has to make a speech. We have all got our servants and 
carriages and horses here every day 300 footmen in livery 
together with other servants in livery make 400. All the standards 
and colours of the whole army are here and all the Colonels. 
Altogether you cannot imagine what a crush and what a scramble 
there is on every occasion. There was a man crushed to death in 
the crowd the other day, which is quite dreadful. . . . 

1 A " happy family " is a cage at a fair in which animals naturally 
hostile to one another live apparently in peace and harmony. 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

Lord Clarendon, who was the British Special Ambas- 1861 
sador on the occasion, writing to Queen Victoria on the 
day after the Coronation, observed that " the great feature 
of the ceremony was the manner in which die Princess 
Royal did homage to the King. Lord Clarendon is at a 
loss for words to describe to your Majesty the exquisite 
grace and the intense emotion with which her Royal 
Highness gave effect to her feelings on the occasion. 
Many an older as well as younger man than Lord Claren- 
don, who had not his interest in the Princess Royal, were 
quite as unable as himself to repress their emotion at 
that which was so touching, because so unaffected and 
sincere. . . . If", Lord Clarendon added, "his Majesty 
had the mind, the judgment, and the foresight of the 
Princess Royal, there would be nothing to fear, and the 
example and influence of Prussia would soon be marvel- 
lously developed. Lord Clarendon has had the honour 
to hold a very long conversation with her Royal High- 
ness, and has been more than ever astonished at the 
statesmanlike and comprehensive views which she takes 
of the policy of Prussia, both internal and foreign, and 
of the duties of a constitutional King." 

From Lord Clarendon's letter to Queen Victoria it 
may be gathered that the Crown Princess was much 
alarmed at the state of affairs in Berlin at this time. The 
new King saw democracy and revolution in every symp- 
tom of opposition to his will. His ministers were merely 
clerks registering the royal decrees. As yet there was 
no one from whom he sought advice, or indeed who 
would have the moral courage to give it. He would 
never accept the consequences of representative govern- 
ment or allow it to be a reality, though at the same time 
he would always religiously keep his word. Such was 
D 33 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1861 Lord Clarendon's diagnosis of the situation, arrived at 
after an audience of the Crown Princess. 

The Princess celebrated her twenty-first birthday on 
November 21, 1861, and in the letter which she received 
from her father, almost the last which he was ever to 
address to her, he wrote : 

May your life, which has begun beautifully, expand still further 
to the good of others and the contentment of your own mind! 
True inward happiness is to be sought only in the internal con- 
sciousness of effort systematically directed to good and useful ends. 
Success indeed depends upon the blessing which the Most High 
sees meet to vouchsafe to our endeavours. May this success not 
fail you, and may your outward life leave you unhurt by the storms, 
to which the sad heart so often looks forward with a shrinking 
dread ! Without the basis of health it is impossible to rear anything 
stable. Therefore see that you spare yourself now, so that at some 
future time you will be able to do more. 1 

The Crown Princess had barely celebrated her twenty- 
first birthday when she received from England the sad 
news of the illness of her father, the Prince Consort 
After a short visit to Cambridge the Prince contracted 
typhoid, and within a few days he was dead. The Crown 
Princess and her second brother, Alfred, who was then 
serving at sea, were the only children absent from the 
death-bed of their beloved father, whose loss the Princess 
felt acutely, for he had been her guide, philosopher, 
mentor and friend. It was he who had inculcated liberal 
doctrines upon her, and who had been responsible for her 
breadth of vision and delight in learning. The blow fell 
with stunning effect on both mother and daughter 
indeed, it is hard to say which of the two felt more utterly 
broken-hearted and desolate. Between the Princess and 
her father there had been ties that were deeper and 

1 The Empress Frederick : A Memoir 9 pp. 149-151. 
34 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

stronger even than the natural affection of parent and i8<5i 
daughter ; he had sedulously formed her mind and tastes, 
and he had become the one counsellor to whom she 
felt she could ever turn in any perplexity or trouble, 
sure of his helpful understanding and sympathy. Very 
soon after her marriage, in a letter to the Prince of 
Wales, she dwelt on their father as the master and leader 
ever to be respected : " You don't know ", she wrote, 
"how one longs for a word from him when one is 
distant." 

Nor did the Princess, like many daughters, allow her 
marriage to weaken this tie ; indeed, the thought of the 
physical distance between them seemed to bring them, if 
possible, spiritually nearer. For her mother, the Princess 
felt the tenderest and most filial affection, writing to her 
every day, sometimes twice a day, but though she and 
her father only wrote to one another once a week, she 
poured out to him all her varied interests in politics, 
literature, science, art and philosophy. It would be diffi- 
cult to find in history a more touching and beautiful 
example of spiritual and intellectual communion between 
father and daughter. 

The shock of her grief seemed to strengthen more 
closely the ties which bound her to the land of her birth 
and of her father's adoption an attitude which provoked 
a good deal of criticism in Berlin. She went to England 
as often as she could, which was as often as her father- 
in-law could be induced to give his permission. Such 
sympathy as the Crown Princess found in Berlin with her 
father's liberal views came from those who were generally 
termed " Coburgers ", such as the younger Stockmar, 
Bunsen and other liberal Germans. The fact that they 
were " Coburgers ", and not Prussians, discounted with 

35 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1861 the King of Prussia and his minister any value their 
influence might have had. 

With the accession of William I. to the throne of 
Prussia it must indeed have seemed to the Crown Princess 
as if some of her own and her husband's hopes and aspira- 
tions for a fuller and more useful public life were about 
to be realised. Both were ardent admirers of English 
constitutional government, and although here the Prince 
often sought the opinion of his Princess, his actions were 
determined by his own breadth of outlook and intellectual 
gifts. He was nine years her elder, and his character and 
views had been formed long before their marriage. Both 
appreciated the characteristics of the other, each adding 
to the other's store of knowledge, and the true descrip- 
tion of their political relationship is that each was in- 
fluenced by but neither dominated the other. In art and 
domestic arrangements, however, the Princess was in her 
own field, as was the Prince with regard to soldiering. 

There were many who thought that a year or two 
at most would be the total term of the new King's 
sovereignty, for he was sixty-three years of age and him- 
self had the illusion that his life's work was done. But 
even if a year or two longer had concluded his allotted 
span, one of his acts alone during that period would have 
had its effect upon the whole history of Europe and have 
prevented for the time any further progress of liberal 
ideas. In 1862 there occurred a bitter dispute between 
the newly crowned King and his parliament over his 
resolve to spend an immense sum of money on the reform 
of the army, and to extricate himself from his grave em- 
barrassments the King summoned Count von Bismarck 
from the German Embassy in Paris in September to 
assume supreme power in Berlin as Minister-President 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

and Minister for Foreign Affairs. Bismarck defined the 1862 
policy of his life when he inaugurated his long rule at 
Berlin with a speech to the Prussian Reichstag on Septem- 
ber 30 in which he declared : " It is not with speeches 
or with parliamentary resolutions that the great questions 
of the day are decided, as was mistakenly done in 1848 
and 1849, but with blood and iron." For thirty-eight 
years Bismarck was faithful to this principle of force as 
the foundation of government, and the majority of his 
fellow-countrymen whole-heartedly accepted his creed. 

Naturally the Crown Prince and Princess regarded 
this event with dismay, but they were disarmed by the 
King's threat of abdication and by the opinion urged 
by the younger Stockmar, who was secretary to the 
Crown Princess, that they should not intervene in party 
strife. 

The new Minister-President was at this period still 
under fifty years of age. In his character three dominant 
traits could be noted pride, fearlessness and secretive- 
ness. Not yet had he acquired that cynical distrust of 
men nor the fierceness depicted in his determined jaw and 
angry brooding eyes, such as his later likenesses portray. 
Taking a strong line with the parliamentary deputies and 
the press, he rode rough-shod over opposition, dominat- 
ing his enemies with unconstitutional severity. It was 
inevitable that neither the Crown Prince nor the Crown 
Princess, with her father's constitutional teachings deeply 
ingrained in every fibre, could see eye to eye with this 
ruthless protagonist of Prussianism, and from the first 
there were clashes and skirmishes, covert and open hos- 
tility. Bismarck regarded the Princess, as he regarded 
all women, as a quantite negligealle in affairs of state, 
while to the Princess, who had views much in advance 

37 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1862 of her time, any form of autocratic government was 
anathema. 

Bismarck's own opinion of the Crown Princess is 
given in his Reminiscences. 

Even soon after her arrival in Germany [he notes], in February 
1858, 1 became convinced, through members of the Royal House 
and from my own observations, that the Princess was prejudiced 
against me personally. The fact did not surprise me so much as the 
form in which her prejudice against me had been expressed in the 
narrow family circle '* she did not trust me ". I was prepared for 
antipathy on account of my alleged anti-English feelings and by 
reason of my refusal to obey English influences ; but, from a con- 
versation which I had with die Princess after the war of 1866, while 
sitting next to her at table, I was obliged to conclude that she had 
subsequently allowed herself to be influenced in her judgment of 
my character by further-reaching calumnies. 

I was ambitious, she said, in a half-jesting tone, to be a king or 
at least a president of a republic. I replied in the same semi-jocular 
tone that I was personally spoilt for a Republican ; that I had grown 
up in the Royalist traditions of the family, and had need of a 
monarchical institution for my earthly well-being ; I thanked God, 
however, that I was not destined to live like a king, constantly on 
show, but to be until death the king's faithful subject. I added that 
no guarantee could, however, be given that this conviction of 
mine would be universally inherited, and this not because Royalists 
would give out, but because perhaps kings might. " Pour faire un 
civet, il faut un lievre, et pour faire une monarchic, il faut un roi." 
I could not answer for it that, in thus expressing myself, I was not 
free from anxiety at the idea of a change in the occupancy of the 
throne without a transference of the monarchical traditions to the 
successor. But the Princess avoided every serious turn and kept up 
the jocular tone, as amiable and entertaining as ever; she rather gave 
me the impression that she wished to tease a political opponent. 

During the first years of my ministry, I frequently remarked in 
the course of similar conversations that the Princess took pleasure 
in provoking my patriotic susceptibilities by playful criticism of 
persons and matters. 1 

1 BismarcKs Reminiscences, vol. i. pp. 190-191. 

38 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

This passage, which undoubtedly reflects Bismarck's 1862 
real feeling, gives a vivid picture of these two remarkable 
personalities, each watchful and guarded like two expert 
duellists who realise the skill of the other. Whatever 
mistakes Bismarck may have made, he never underrated 
the Crown Princess's ability. 

This critical period in Prussian history made Berlin 
anything but pleasant for those who refused to swallow 
Bismarck's potent tonic, and the Crown Prince and Prin- 
cess accepted an invitation from the Prince of Wales 
to join him in a Mediterranean and Italian tour. From 
Coburg the party made a leisurely journey through South 
Germany and Switzerland to Marseilles where they em- 
barked in the royal yacht Oslorne. Sicily, Tunis, Malta 
and Naples were visited in turn. A few days 9 stay in Rome 
in mid-November completed the tour and they returned 
to Berlin in December after an absence of three months. 
The Crown Princess enjoyed this immensely, and its 
greatest result was to lay the foundation of that deep 
love for Italy and Italian art which became one of her 
strongest characteristics. 

It was towards the end of this tour that the Crown 
Prince and Princess made a short stay in December at 
Vienna. The American historian, John Lothrop Motley, 
who was visiting Austria at the time, gives a charming 
account of his interview with the Crown Princess, who 
had wished to meet him : " She is rather petite, has a 
fresh young face with pretty features, fine teeth, and a 
frank and agreeable smile and an interested, earnest and 
intelligent manner. Nothing could be simpler or more 
natural than her style, which I should say was the per- 
fection of good breeding." 

Meanwhile a second son, Prince Henry, destined to 

39 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1 863 become Germany's sailor prince, had been born on August 
14, i862 3 to the Crown Prince and Princess. 

It might have been expected that the Crown Princess's 
growing family would have disarmed a little of that 
hostility with which she was regarded by some elements 
in Prussia. Strangely enough the enmity grew because 
the arrival of the children, two of whom were boys, 
naturally strengthened the position of the Princess, and 
her opponents feared that these young Princes would be 
brought up in English rather than Prussian ways. 

Bismarck, now well in the saddle, soon made it 
clear that he would not permit the Constitution of 
1850 to stand in his way, and he persuaded William I. 
to govern without parliament, and to agree to such an 
interpretation of the Prussian Constitution as would 
enable him to muzzle the press. To these autocratic 
acts both the Crown Prince and Princess were opposed, 
and decided to make it plain that they were not conniv- 
ing at such a misinterpretation. The result was a severe 
estrangement between the King and his son. On June 5, 
1863, the Crown Prince wrote to his father, expressing 
his views, and on the same day, while at Dantzig, during 
a tour in the performance of his military duties, speak- 
ing in public to the chief Burgomaster, von Winter, he 
declared himself to be opposed to his father's policy. 
King William at once wrote demanding a public re- 
cantation, and threatened to deprive the Prince of his 
dignities and position. The Crown Prince, in his reply 
of June 7, declined to retract anything, offered to lay 
down his command and other offices, and begged to be 
allowed to retire with his family to some place where 
he would be under no suspicion of interfering in politics. 
The breach between father and son seemed to be com- 
40 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

plete, and it was with feelings of bewilderment that the 1863 
Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria on June 8 : 

I told you, on the 5th, that Fritz had written twice to the 
King, once, warning him of the consequences that would ensue if 
the constitution was falsely interpreted in order to take away the 
liberty of the press. The King did it all the same, and answered 
Fritz with a very angry letter. Fritz then senthis protestto Bismarck 
on the 4th, saying he wished to have an answer immediately. 
Bismarck has not answered. 

Fritz wrote on the fth to the King, as I told you. On the same 
day Mr. de Winter, the Oberburgermeister of Danzig, a great 
friend of ours, a worthy and excellent man, as clever as liberal- 
minded, told Fritz he would make him a speech at the Rathaus, 
and begged Fritz to answer him. 

I did all I could to induce Fritz to do so, knowing how necessary 
it was that he should once express his sentiments openly and dis- 
claim having any part in the last measures of the Government. 
He did so accordingly in very mild and measured terms you 
will have no doubt seen it in the newspapers. To this the King 
answered Fritz a furious letter, treating him quite like a little child ; 
telling him instantly to retract in the newspapers the words he had 
spoken at Danzig, charging him with disobedience, etc., and telling 
him that if he said one other word of the kind he would instantly 
recall him and take his place in the Army and the Council from him. 

Fritz sat up till one last night, writing the answer, which 
Captain von Luccadon has taken to Berlin this morning, and in 
which Fritz says that he is almost brokenhearted at causing his 
father so much pain, but that he could not retract the words spoken 
to Winter at Danzig ; that he had always hoped the King's Govern- 
ment would not act in a way which should force him to put 
himself in direct opposition to the King ; but now it had come to 
that, and he (Fritz) would stand by his opinions. He felt that 
under such circumstances it would be impossible for him to retain 
any office military or civil, and he laid both at the feet of the 
King. As he felt that his presence must be disagreeable to the 
King, he begged him to name a place, or allow us to select one, 
where he could live in perfect retirement and not mix in politics. 

What the upshot of this will be, heaven knows. Fritz has 
done his duty and has nothing to reproach himself with. But he 

41 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1863 is in a state of perfect misery, and in consequence not at all well. 
I hope you will make his conduct known to your Ministers and 
to all our friends in England. We feel dreadfully alone, having 
not a soul from whom to ask advice. But Fritz's course of duty 
is so plain and straightforward, that it requires no explaining or 
advising. 

How unhappy I am to see him so worried, I cannot say ; but 
I shall stand by him as is my duty, and advise him to do his in 
the face of all the Kings and Emperors of the whole world. 

A year of silence and self-denial has brought Fritz no other 
fruits than that of being considered weak and helpless. The 
Conservatives fancy he is in Duncker's 1 hands, and that he dictates 
his every step. The Liberals think he is not sincerely one of them, 
and those few who do think it, fancy he has not the courage to 
avow it. He has now given them an opportunity of judging of his 
way of thinking, and consequently will now again be passive and 
silent till better days come. The way in which the Government 
behave, and the way in which they have treated Fritz, rouse my 
every feeling of independence. Thank God I was bom in England, 
where people are not slaves, and too good to allow themselves 
to be treated as such. 

I hope our nation here will soon prove that we come of the 
same forefathers, and strive for their own lawful independence, to 
which they have been too long callous. 

Queen Victoria did as her daughter wished, and in- 
formed one or two of her ministers as to what was hap- 
pening in Prussia. Lord Russell was shown the Crown 
Princess's letter by General Grey, who was Private Secre- 
tary to the Queen. Lord Russell thought that " nothing 
can be more judicious than the course the Crown Prince 
has adopted the hope of any good depends on his firm 
perseverance in it. With the Crown Princess by his side 
there seems no fear of his not being firm." 

1 Professor Duncker, a Prussian deputy who had been attached 
to the Crown Prince on King William's accession as a channel of 
communication in state matters. Both the Crown Prince and 
Princess trusted him implicitly. 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

That was the English viewpoint. The Prussian view- 1863 
point was that the Crown Prince and Princess had 
meddled in matters outside their proper concern and 
they lost popularity accordingly. Intimations as to the 
correspondence between the Crown Prince and King 
William were published in The Times, then in the Gren%- 
boten (through Gustav Freytag) and in the Suddeutsche 
Zeitung (through Busch, at Freytag's instance). On June 
21 the Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

The messenger has just arrived, bringing your dear letter, and 
the one from General Grey; allow me to answer them both 
together. 

We are wellnigh worn out with mental fatigue, anxiety, excite- 
ment of the most painful kind. I was ill all yesterday, and feel 
still very confused! I send you all the papers that you may see 
what Fritz has done, said and written! He has done all he could. 
He has, for the first time in his life, taken up a position decidedly 
in opposition to his father. His speech in Danzig was intended to 
convey in a clear and unpveideutig way to his hearers, that he had 
nothing to do with the unconstitutional acts of the Government 
that he was not even aware of their being in contemplation I The 
effect produced on those fifty or sixty who heard it was exactly 
the one desired, but I know there are many who will not agree. 
The Conservatives are in a state of indignation and alarm! the 
King very angry! We are in this critical position without a 
secretary, without a single person to give advice, to write for us, 
or to help us ; whatever we do one way or the other is abused. 

After having read all these papers, you will understand that 
Fritz can do no more than what he has done! My last letter will 
explain much of what has happened. We are surrounded with 
spies, who watch all we do, and most likely report all to Berlin, in 
a sense to checkmate everything we do. 

The Liberal papers are forbidden, so we do not even know 
what is going on. Fritz's speech was much praised by newspapers 
in Frankfort-on-the-Main. As for coming to you, dear Mama, 
you are too kind to say so ; at present we can decide nothing, as 
we have received no answer from the King ; our fate is not settled. 

43 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

18(33 If it becomes necessary for us to leave the country, I can hardly 
say how grateful we shall be to be once again with you, in that 
blessed country of peace and happiness ! 

Now good-bye, my dearest Mama, I kiss your hands. I am 
sure you will think of me in all this trouble. I do not mind any 
difficulties so long as they end well for Fritz ; indeed I enjoy a 
pitched battle (when it comes to it) exceedingly. Fritz feels his 
courage rise in every emergency ; only the thought of his father 
makes him feel powerless. " Think if it wasyoar father," he says 
to me, " would you like to disobey him and make him unhappy ? *' 

In a postscript the Princess added : 

. . . The King does not accept Fritz's resignation, and wishes 
us to continue our journey, forbidding Fritz, however, to say 
another word openly. We shall therefore carry out our plan of 
travelling here (at Konigsberg) till the ist of July, when we shall 
go to the Isle of Riigen. In August I hope to see you, dear 
Mama, for a day or two; in September are the manceuvres and 
a Statistical Congress, which Fritz is to open; therefore I fear 
Scotland will be quite impossible. Oh dear! what a sad and 
wretched time we have of it, and no help, no support, surrounded 
with people determined to put an insurmountable barrier to all 
we wish to do in a liberal sense, and tormenting the very life out of 
one! Please send back the enclosed as soon as you can. As soon as 
the rest of the papers are returned to us, Fritz will send them to you. 

M. de Bismarck has not even answered Fritz's letter, and the 
King has forbidden him to give it to the rest of the Ministers! 

Bismarck believed that the publication of the letters 
was due to the Princess, and Busch quotes a memoran- 
dum, dated Gastein, August 2, probably dictated by 
Bismarck, which expressed this view. " Either ", runs the 
memorandum, " she has herself attained to definite views 
of her own as to the form of government most advan- 
tageous for Prussia ... or she has succumbed to the 
concerted influences of the Anglo-Coburg combination. 
However this may be, it is asserted that she has decided 
upon a course of opposition to the present Government, 
44 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

and has taken advantage of the Dantzig incident and the 1863 
excitement to which it has given rise in the highest circles, 
in order to bring her consort more and more into promin- 
ence by these revelations, and to acquaint public opinion 
with the Crown Prince's way of thinking. All this out of 
anxiety for the future of her consort/' The memorandum 
went on to state that the Crown Princess's most power- 
ful supporter was Queen Augusta, who was extremely 
anxious as to her own position towards the country. 
" They have had a memorandum drawn up by President 
Camphausen on the internal situation in Prussia, attacking 
the present Government, which was laid before the King. 
In a marginal note the King observes that the principles 
therein recommended would lead to revolution. Meyer, 
the Councillor of Embassy, is Augusta's instrument, and 
it is beyond question that he is associated with the Anglo- 
Coburg party. The participation of Professor Duncker 1 
as also of Baron Stockmar, would appear to be less 
certain." The memorandum is accompanied by com- 
ments in Bismarck's handwriting, in which the views ex- 
pressed by the Crown Prince are refuted point by point. 
In the course of his criticism the writer says, inter alia : 
" The pretension that a warning from his Royal Highness 
should outweigh royal decisions, come to after serious 
and careful consideration, attributes undue importance to 
his own position and experience as compared to those 
of his sovereign and father. No one could believe that 
H.R.H. had any share in these acts of personal authority, 
as everybody knows that the Prince has no vote in the 
Ministry. . . ." 2 

1 As a matter of fact he was not concerned in it. See Haym's 
work, Das Leben Max Dunckers, pp. 294, 295. 
9 JSismarcky Busch, p. 289. 

45 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1863 A week later (June 30, 1863) the Crown Prince wrote 
to Bismarck : 

I see from your letter of the loth instant that at his Majesty's 
commands you have omitted to communicate officially to the 
Ministry of State my protest respecting the rescript, restricting the 
liberty of the press, which I sent to you from Graudenz on the 8th 
of June. I can easily understand that the opportunity of treating as 
a personal matter an incident which, as you yourself have acknow- 
ledged, might, in its consequences, acquire widespread significance, 
was not unwelcome to you. It would serve no purpose for me to 
insist upon that communication being made, as I am justified in 
inferring from your own words that it will have been done un- 
officially. 

It is necessary for me, however, to speak plainly to you respect- 
ing the alternative which you place before me, namely, to lighten or 
render more difficult the task which the Ministry has undertaken. I 
cannot lighten that task, as I find myself opposed to it in principle. 
A loyal administration of the laws and of the Constitution, respect 
and goodwill towards an easily led, intelligent and capable people 
these are the principles which, in my opinion, should guide every 
Government in the treatment of the country. I cannot bring the 
policy which finds expression in the ordinance of the ist of June 
into harmony with these principles. It is true you seek to prove to 
me the constitutional character of that rescript, and you assure me 
that you and your colleagues remember your oath. I think, how- 
ever, that the Government requires a stronger basis than very 
dubious interpretations which do not appeal to the sound common 
sense of the people. You yourself call attention to the circumstance 
that even your opponents respect the honesty of your convictions. 
I will not inquire into that assertion [" Not over courteous **, was 
Bismarck's comment in pencil], but if you attach any importance 
to the opinions of your opponents, the circumstance that the great 
majority of the educated classes among our people deny the con- 
stitutional character of the ordinance must necessarily awaken 
scruples in your mind. . , . I will tell you what results I anticipate 
from your policy. You will go on quibbling with the Constitution 
until it loses all value in the eyes of the people. In that way you 
will on the one hand arouse anarchical movements that go beyond 
the bounds of the Constitution ; while on the other hand, whether 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

you intend it or not, you will pass from one venturesome interpreta- 1 863 
tion to another until you are finally driven into an open breach of 
the Constitution. [" Perhaps," was Bismarck's comment.] I regard 
those who lead his Majesty the King, my most gracious father, 
into such courses as the most dangerous advisers for Crown and 
country. [" Youth is hasty with words," quoted Bismarck.] 

To this letter the Crown Prince added the postscript : 

Already before the ist of June of this year I but rarely made use 
of my right to attend the sittings of the Ministry of State. From the 
foregoing statement of my convictions you will understand my 
requesting his Majesty the King to allow me to abstain altogether 
from attending them at present. A continuous public and personal 
manifestation of the differences between myself and the Ministry 
[" Absalom! " was Bismarck's comment in pencil] would be in 
keeping neither with my position nor my inclination. In every 
other respect, however, I shall impose no restrictions upon the 
expression of my views ; and the Ministry may rest assured that it 
will depend upon themselves and their own future action whether, 
in spite of my own strong reluctance, I find myself forced into 
further public steps, when duty appears to call for them. [" Come 
on! " writes Bismarck's undaunted pencil.] 1 

Between the Crown Prince and Bismarck there was 
now marked hostility, and the Crown Princess naturally 
sided with her husband in the quarrel. Three months later 
the Crown Prince communicated to his father the tenor 
of his letter to Bismarck, and on September 3 wrote to 
Bismarck : 

I have today communicated to his Majesty the views which I set 
forth to you in my letters from Putbus, and which I begged you not 
to submit to the King until I myself had done so. A decision which 
will have serious consequences was yesterday taken in the Council. 
I did not wish to reply to his Majesty in the presence of the Min- 
isters. I have done so today, and have given expression to my mis- 
givings my serious misgivings for the future. The King now 
knows that I am a decided opponent of the Ministry. 

1 Bismarck^ Busch, pp. 235-237. 

47 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1863 At the end of the letter Bismarck scribbled, apparently 
as part of a draft reply : 

I can only hope that your Royal Highness will one day find 
servants as faithful as I am to your father. I do not intend to be of 
the number. 1 

The Crown Princess had now been in Prussia five and 
a half years, years that, although producing the little series 
of pinpricks to which everyone is subject, had brought 
her much happiness. This duel between her husband and 
Bismarck was the first indication of open hostility. Both 
the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess had been 
actuated by the highest motives in their opposition to 
King William: but Bismarck had won. There could not 
be two supreme advisers, and the Crown Prince had been 
dramatically bidden to stand aside. Neither he nor his 
Princess forgot : nor did Bismarck, who long remembered 
that here was an opponent who had dared to question his 
decisions in the secret counsels of the King. 

In the Prussian court henceforward there were two 
main parties. At the head of the reactionary-all-for- 
Prussia party was Bismarck with the King as his shield. 
At the head of the liberal-minded " Anglo-Coburg " 
party, as Bismarck scathingly referred to it, were the 
Crown Prince of Prussia and his English-bom Princess. 

Some of the Prussian dissatisfaction at the views of 
the Crown Prince and Princess was evinced when, in 
the following month the Crown Prince, accompanied by 
his wife, went on a long tour of military inspections in 
Prussia and Pomerania. In some of the towns they visited 
en route the municipal authorities ostentatiously refrained 
from celebrating the occasion ; and it was very evident 
that the official attitude in Prussia was reflecting some 

1 Bismarck, Busch, p. 238. 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

wish from a more influential quarter. The result was that 1863 
in September 1863 there followed a long visit to the 
English court which lasted until December. The Princess 
was at home in England and tongues began to wag at 
the incomprehensible preference of the Prussian Crown 
Princess for a land other than that she had adopted. 
Meanwhile Queen Victoria had visited Coburg and had 
had long conversations with Robert Morier, the Crown 
Princess's friend. Bismarck noted these things carefully, 
and sedulously fostered the growing disapproval of the 
mythical English interference in Prussian affairs. 

Just prior to Queen Victoria's visit to Coburg, Austria 
had attempted to take the solution of the German question 
into her own hands by initiating a scheme for reforming 
the Federal Constitution, and the Emperor Francis Joseph 
invited the Princes and the free cities of Germany to a 
conference in August at Frankfort to discuss the reorgan- 
isation of the Germanic Confederation. King William 
was inclined to accept this proposal, but Bismarck held 
other views, insisting on complete equality with Austria 
in Federal affairs. A further invitation from the Emperor 
suggesting that the King should send the Crown Prince 
to the Congress of Princes, was also declined. 

Nevertheless the Congress was held, and coincided 
with Queen Victoria's visit to Coburg. Hence there was 
held a sort of family gathering at Coburg, presided over 
by Queen Victoria, at which the Crown Prince and 
Princess were prominent figures. The Congress, owing 
to King William's absence, was futile ; and the well-meant 
efforts of Queen Victoria, who saw both King William 
and the Emperor Francis Joseph, failed to bring them 
into accord. Only a year earlier Bismarck had first made 
public use of the tremendous phrase that the German 

E 49 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1863 question would have to be solved by " blood and iron ". 
An opportunity was not long to be delayed of putting 
this grim policy to the test. In less than a year there 
was war with Denmark over the duchies of Schleswig 
and Holstein, and within four years a war with Austria 
for the leadership of Germany. 

The causes that led to the war with Denmark have 
long been the subject of dispute among historians, and it 
is perhaps just sufficient to indicate the events prior to the 
outbreak of war. 

On March 30, 1863, a Danish Royal Patent was issued 
arbitrarily granting to Holstein a new form of government 
but separating it entirely from Schleswig which was left 
under the Danish Rigsraad and imposing additional 
financial burdens on both duchies. This was followed up 
in the late autumn by the incorporation of the duchy 
of Schleswig in the kingdom of Denmark. The bill for 
this, passed on November 13, never received the signa- 
ture of King Frederick VIL, who died two days later. 
He was succeeded by his nephew, King Christian IX., the 
father of Alexandra, Princess of Wales. Three days after 
his accession King Christian reluctantly ratified this act 

The position was complicated by the fact that there 
was a third claimant to the duchy of Schleswig (as well 
as to that of Holstein) in the person of Duke Frederick of 
Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg, known 
familiarly as Fritz Augustenburg, whose partisans in- 
cluded the Crown Prince and Princess, the King of 
Hanover, the Duke of Coburg and the heads of a few 
minor German states. Queen Victoria sympathised with 
the German aspirations and with the claims of the heredi- 
tary Prince of Augustenburg, but members of her own 
family as well as those of the royal families of Prussia 
5 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

and Denmark took various sides with ardent enthusiasm. 1864 
The question in fact came like a dividing sword between 
the royal circles of those three countries. The British 
royal family was connected intimately with both Den- 
mark and Prussia, for two of Queen Victoria's daughters 
had married German princes, while her eldest son, the 
Prince of Wales, had married Princess Alexandra (Alix) 
of Denmark in March 1863. On January 5, 1864, the 
Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

... Of politics I can say nothing only this much which will 
give you pleasure, which is that the King is much kinder to Fritz 
and that the Queen is much pleased with him. 

My thoughts and wishes are with Fritz Augustenburg, who 
has embarked on a difficult course, though it was the right one. 
But I feel much for poor King Christian, with his kind feelings and 
good heart he must find the position he is in doubly disagreeable. 
I hope dearest Alix does not fret too much about it all. King 
Christian has himself to thank for the fix he is in why did he 
accept and allow himself to be put in a place not rightfully his 
own ? He might now be living in peace and quiet. . . . 

Bismarck now seized the opportunity to his hand, 
and on January 16, 1864, issued an ultimatum to King 
Christian to evacuate and abandon Schleswig within 
twenty-four hours. War resulted. 

"With the outbreak of war the Crown Princess found 
herself at odds with her brother and sister-in-law, the 
Prince and Princess of Wales, who naturally supported 
Denmark ; and with the King and Queen of Prussia, 
who naturally supported Bismarck. 

On the failure of King Christian to abandon Schleswig 
at Bismarck's bidding, Prussian and Austrian troops in- 
vaded the duchy. The gallant but hopeless resistance of 
the Danes excited tremendous sympathy in England, and 
Lord Palmerston, die Prime Minister, and Lord Russell, 

51 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1864 the Foreign Secretary, reflected public opinion in scath- 
ing denunciations of the brutal attack. The government, 
however, stopped short at threats, for Queen Victoria's 
influence was on the side of neutrality. 

The position was now doubly difficult for the Crown 
Prince and Princess. Whilst regarding " Fritz Augusten- 
burg " as the rightful claimant, reasons of state compelled 
their identification with the Prussian policy, to the un- 
disguised impatience of the Prince and Princess of Wales. 
The Crown Prince, as a Lieutenant-General in the 
Prussian army, was of course called up for active service, 
which occasioned further bitterness between the Crown 
Princess and her brother. " Vicky little dreamt ", wrote 
the King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria several 
months later (June 15, 1864), "in selecting a charming 
(Danish) Princess (for her brother) that she would be- 
come a source of difficulties for England, and perhaps the 
cause of a popular war against Prussia.' 3 

On January 21 the German troops under Marshal 
Wrangel entered Holstein, and on February 5 the Danes 
abandoned their lines of defence the Dannewerke in 
order to save their army. The change in the attitude of 
the Crown Princess may be gathered from her letter of 
February 8 to Queen Victoria : 

The turn the campaign has taken astonishes us all very much, as 
we thought the taking of the Dannewerke would be a dreadful 
business and no one dreamt of the Danes abandoning their position. 

I hope and pray that the war may end with honour to our dear 
troops and attain all the results which Germany expects. You say, 
dear Mama, that you are glad you have not the blood of so many 
innocents on your conscience. We have nobody to thank for it 
but Lord Palmerston and the Emperor Nicholas. If they had not 
meddled with what did not concern them in the year '48, these 
sad consequences would not have ensued. , . . 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

It is impossible to blame an English person for not under- 1864 
standing the Schleswig-Holstein question after the mess the two 
Great Powers of Germany have made of it, it remains nevertheless 
to us Germans plain and simple as daylight and one for which we 
would gladly bring any sacrifice. 

The succeeding weeks saw the continued advance of 
the Prussian and Austrian troops which culminated in 
March and April by a fierce attack on the village and 
fortress of Diippel or Dybbol. The virulent comments 
in the British press on the conduct of the allies now turned 
the opinion of the Crown Princess into even more 
definite channels, especially when the bombardment of 
Sonderburg, a town on the island of Alsen covered by 
the bridgehead of Diippel, was described as brutal and 
violent. 

If the bombardment [the Crown Princess wrote to Queen 
Victoria on April 13] of Sonderburg has raised ill feeling towards 
us in England the most absurd, unjust, rude and violent attacks 
in the Times and in Parliament can only increase the irritation or 
rather more contempt, which is expressed in no measured terms here 
and generally felt for England's position in the Danish question. 

But even the French see this and defend us against the really 
childishly indignant attacks upon us in the Presse of the roth. 

I can see nothing inhuman or improper in any way in the 
bombardment of Sonderburg it was necessary and we hope it 
has been useful. "What would Lord Russell say if we were every 
instant to make enquiries about what is going on in Japan 
where Admiral Kuper was not so intensely scrupulous as to 
bombardments. 

I quite agree with Mr. Bernal Osborne who calls in his most 
excellent speech in the Times of the 9th the perpetual unnecessary 
questions which are asked of us here and at Vienna " Hysteric 
fussiness ". The continual meddling and interfering of England in 
other people's affairs has become so ridiculous abroad that it almost 
ceases to annoy. But to an English heart it is no pleasant sight to 
see the dignity of one's country so compromised and let down 
its influence so completely lost. 

53 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1864 The highly pathetic, philanthropic and virtuous tone in which 
all the attacks against Prussia are made, has something intensely 
ridiculous about it. The English would not like it if they were 
engaged in a war, to be dictated to in a pompous style, how they 
were to conduct it, indeed I am sure they would not stand such 
interference. Why should we then be supposed to submit to it ? 

In May a truce was arranged, but hostilities broke out 
afresh in June. The Danes, however, were in no condi- 
tion to continue the struggle and quickly sued for peace. 
The peace which followed secured Prussia and Austria 
in the joint occupation of the two duchies. On May 26 
the Crown Princess wrote : 

... I really do begin to think politics are taking a more 
favourable turn and do not despair of things ending pretty well 
now I What a blessing ! Furious as everyone is here about England, 
the King never misses an opportunity of saying how much he 
owes you, and how grateful he is to you for your endeavours to 
keep peace, etc., etc., which he feels certain would not have been 
preserved but for you. I hope and trust a peace will be made on a 
basis which will for ever prevent the recurrence of hostilities on 
the subject of the duchies, and which will bring them and their 
duke to their lawful rights. 

One thing I own torments me much, it is the feeling of ani- 
mosity between our two countries ; it is so dangerous and pro- 
ductive of such harm! It is kept up too by such foolish trifles, 
which might be so well avoided. Prussia has gained unpopularity 
for itself since some time, on account of the King's illiberal govern- 
ment, but the feeling against us now in England is most unjust 1 
Now dear Papa is no longer here I live in continual dread that the 
bonds which united our two countries for their mutual good are 
being so loosened that they may in time be quite severed! A great 
deal depends on who is Minister, that is Ambassador, here. Sir A. 
Buchanan, who is an excellent man, whom I honour and like 
personally, is quite unfit for the place and has made himself a very 
bad position here. He knows no German and understands nothing 
whatever of German affairs, nor of the position Prussia holds in 
the different questions which arise. He does not listen to those 

54 



EARLY YEARS IN PRUSSIA 

who do know, and is consequently continually misinformed and 1864 
misrepresents things totally, as I saw out of the blue book. He is 
very unpopular here and has no sort of influence. He picks up 
his information from bad sources, such as other silly diplomatists 
who understand nothing at all (the Brazilian, for instance). Sir 
Andrew is a high Tory and dislikes everything Liberal, the con- 
sequence of which is that he totally misunderstands the positions 
of our political parties ; our Conservative party in England cannot 
be compared with the Kreu% Zeitung^ it is quite a different thing. 
Strange to say, in spite of all the ill-treatment he has received at 
his hands, Sir A. has a secret liking for Bismarck. 

With the end of the Danish War it seemed as if the 
interrupted cordialities between the Princess Frederick 
and her brother, the Prince of Wales, might be renewed, 
but the embers of distrust smouldered for a few months 
longer. In October the Prince and Princess of Wales, 
after visiting Denmark, proceeded to Germany and at 
Cologne had a brief meeting with the Crown Prince 
(fresh from the battlefield) and Princess. The family 
differences flamed up afresh. 

"I can assure you" a the Prince of Wales wrote to Lord 
Spencer on November 7, ee it was not pleasant to see him (the 
Crown Prince) and his A.D.C. always in Prussian uniform, flaunt- 
ing before our eyes a most objectionable ribbon which he received 
for his deeds of 'valour ? ? ? against the unhappy Danes." x 

1 Sir Sidney Lee, Life of King Edward VIL vol. L p. 256. 



55 



CHAPTER III 

THE AUSTRIAN WAR 

1865 THE Danish War was only a rung in Bismarck's tall ladder 
of Prussian aggrandisement and German unity* In those 
days the rights of small nations were an unknown quan- 
tity, but even if the defence of the weak against the strong 
had been a European aphorism then, it is doubtful 
whether this solicitude for the smaller countries would 
have found any place in Bismarck's theories, "Within two 
years the alliance with Austria had served its turn. It 
was Queen Victoria who had expressed the view that it 
was " a sacred duty " to strengthen Prussia's prestige 
an opinion warmly held by the Crown Princess, but now 
war between Prussia and Austria almost meant civil war 
within her family circle. The Crown Princess's brother- 
in-law, the Grand Duke of Hesse, her cousin the King 
of Hanover, her uncle Ernest, Duke of Saxe-Coburg, and 
many others of her German kinsfolk were ranging them- 
selves on Austria's side. The Crown Prince Frederick, 
however, no matter on which side his relations might be, 
was bound to fight at the head of a Prussian army against 
his wife's German relatives. 

Meanwhile Bismarck was in no temper to conciliate 
either the Crown Princess or her mother, Queen Victoria, 
for several events of minor importance had occurred 
during the preceding year which tended to widen the 
breach between them. Early that year it became evident 

56 



THE AUSTRIAN WAR 

that Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg- 1865 
Augustenburg, the younger brother of that Duke 
Frederick ("Fritz Augustenburg" as the Crown Princess 
called him) whose claim to the duchies of Schleswig 
and Holstein, although supported by the Crown Prince 
and Princess, had been so contemptuously dismissed 
by Bismarck, was eager to win the hand of Queen 
Victoria's daughter. Princess Helena. When the Danish 
War ended, Bismarck had shown the force of his mailed 
fist by depriving Duke Frederick and Prince Christian of 
their property, commissions and standing. It was obvious 
that those who endeavoured to thwart the Iron Chancellor 
must take the consequences. 

Queen Victoria, however, had preserved an open 
mind, and when rumour began to spread as to Prince 
Christian's admiration of her daughter, she wrote, early 
in April 1865, to the Crown Princess asking for her 
opinion of the Prince, and the Crown Princess replied 
(April 18) : 

You ask about Christian. You know he is our Hausfreitnd. He 
comes and goes when he likes, walks and breakfasts and dines with 
us, when he is here and we are alone. He is the best creature in the 
world ; not as clever as Fritz (Augustenburg), but certainly not 
wanting in any way. He is very amusing when he chooses. We 
like him very much. He is almost bald ; is not like Fritz, more 
like his father and eldest sister. He has a much better figure than 
his brother, and quite a military tournure. Nor is he so distinguished 
as Fritz, of whom I have the highest possible opinion as regards 
his character and intellect. 

Christian is very fond of children and speaks English. I send 
you a photograph of him which he gave me. He has not the fine 
eyes of his brother, but a better mouth and chin. He has the same 
way of speaking as they all have. 

His position here is not an easy or an agreeable one ; but he 
manages to get on very well. . . . 

57 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1865 When this favourable opinion of the Crown Princess's 
was supported by one of the ladies of the Queen of 
Prussia, Countess Bliicher, who was, as Queen Victoria 
wrote to King Leopold, " most favourable to the idea ", 
Queen Victoria at once began to consider " how by 
degrees it could naturally be brought about ". 

In the summer of 1865 Queen Victoria journeyed to 
Coburg to unveil, on August 26, a statue to the Prince 
Consort, and thither she summoned the Prince of Wales 
and the Crown Prince and Princess. Altogether twenty- 
four of the Queen's near kinsfolk the majority of them 
German attended the ceremony, and among the visitors 
was (as she wrote) the " extremely pleasing, gentleman- 
like, quiet and distinguished " Prince Christian. Queen 
Victoria took advantage of the occasion to publish her 
approval of Princess Helena's engagement to him. Bis- 
marck was furious at this implied rebuke of his treat- 
ment of Duke Frederick and Prince Christian. That 
Queen Victoria should publish in such circumstances her 
assent to an engagement which would obviously offend 
Prussian susceptibilities, was interpreted by him to be a 
demonstration of defiance not only on her part, but on 
the part of the Crown Prince and Princess, and he was 
slow to forget it 

The following year the tension between Prussia and 
Austria grew. The Danish War had resulted in Prussia 
and Austria being co-occupants of the duchies of Schles- 
wig and Holstein : by now Bismarck regarded Austria 
as an encumbrance and early in 1866 it was evident that 
the issue of peace or war between the ci-devant allies was 
hanging by a thread. 

We are still [wrote the Crown Princess to Queen Victoria on 
April 4, 1866] suspended midway between peace and war ; not a 

58 



THE AUSTRIAN WAR 

day passes without some little incident which might be easily laid 1866 
hold of to turn the scales on the side of peace, and not a day passes 
that the wicked man does not with the greatest ability counteract 
and thwart what is good, and drive on towards war, turning and 
twisting everything to serve his own purpose. 

As often as we are a little hopeful again and see a means of 
getting out of the fix, we hear shortly after that the means have 
been rendered unavailable ; the tissue of untruths is such that 
one gets quite perplexed with only listening to them, but the net is 
cleverly made, and the King (of Prussia), in spite of all his reluct- 
ance, gets more and more entangled in it without perceiving it. ... 

It was as the German Crown Princess said Bismarck 
had so complicated the issues that war was inevitable. 
Every effort ? however, was made, not only by the Crown 
Princess, but also by Queen Victoria, to find some means 
of averting the conflict. Queen Victoria herself tried to 
moderate Prussian aggressiveness by appealing to the 
King of Prussia on April 10, to avoid war. She again 
wrote early in May, this time through the Crown Prince, 
suggesting a European Conference. A few days later 
(May 19) the Crown Princess wrote dolefully from Pots- 
dam to the Queen : 

... I have hardly courage to write, I can do nothing but harp 
on that one unfortunate theme. Fritz gave your letter to the King, 
but he has not said anything about it. Fritz does not think the 
King will accept the proposal, and thinks that the Congress could 
only propose solutions which either Prussia or Austria would not 
agree to. I do not despair, but I think the chances of peace become 
smaller every day! Heaven help usl It is a most miserable, 
wretched time. 

Our christening x will be such a sad one ; the day after, my 
Fritz leaves and joins his troops, taking the command of the 
Silesian Army ; when and where I shall see him again I do not 
know ; what I feel I cannot tell you. I think my heart will break. 
All is uncertain, and ruin and misfortune of every kind likely. 

1 The Princess Victoria was born on April 12, 1866. 

59 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1866 We hear nothing talked of all day but war and preparations for 
it. The command which Fritz has received is very fine and very 
honourable, but a most difficult one; he will have almost ex- 
clusively Poles under him, which you know are not so pleasant as 
Germans. He is busy forming his staff and has been lucky enough 
to get some very good officers. . . . 

In June war broke out, and there followed that short, 
brilliant Seven Weeks* War which resulted in the humilia- 
tion of Austria and gave Prussia the hegemony of Ger- 
many. 

The distress of the Crown Princess at seeing her hus- 
band depart on another campaign against an apparently 
much more formidable foe than the Danes was now 
intensified by the loss of her youngest boy, Prince Sigis- 
mund, who died on June 18, at the age of twenty-one 
months. On June 19 she wrote to Queen Victoria : 

Your suffering child turns to you in her grief, sure to find 
sympathy from so tender a heart, so versed in sorrow. The hand 
of Providence is heavy upon me. I have to bear this awful trial 
alone, without my poor Fritz. My little darling graciously lent me 
for a short time, to be my pride, my joy, my hope, is gone, gone, 
where my passionate devotion cannot follow, from where my love 
cannot recall him! Oh spare me telling you how, and when, and 
where my heart was rent and broken, let me only say that I do 
not murmur or repine, God's Will be done. 

What I suffer none can know, few knew how I loved. It was 
my own happy secret, the long cry of agony which rises from the 
inmost depth of my soul, reaches Heaven alone. 

I wish you to know all, you are so kind, darling Mama, that 
you will wish to hear all about the last terrible days. I cannot 
describe them. I am calm now, for Fritz's sake and my little one's, 
but oh how bitter is this cup. . . . 

Queen Victoria's sympathetic reply brought the fol- 
lowing letter from the Princess (June 26, 1866) : 

A thousand thanks for your dear lines and the poems they 
touched and soothed me. In moments of extreme grief when one 
60 



THE AUSTRIAN WAR 

seems unable to realise what has happened, or how one can still 1866 
be living at all, one's thoughts naturally turn to those who have 
gone through the ordeal of such suffering and is thankful for 
kindness and sympathizing words 1 So my thoughts turned to you I 
Our afflictions cannot be compared, they are too different, but each 
heart knoweth its own bitterness. A little child does not seem a 
great loss to other people but none know but God how I suffer. 
Oh how I loved that little thing, from the first moments of its birth, 
it was more to me than its brothers and sisters, it was so fair, so 
loving, so bright and merry, how proud I was of my little one ; 
and just this one my heart's best treasure was taken, and the sorrow 
seems greater than I can bear. Oh, to see it suffer so cruelly, to see 
it die and hear its last piteous cry was an agony I cannot describe, 
it haunts me night and dayl The last few months my little Sigie 
had grown so wonderfully forward and intelligent, he was so 
clever, much more than either of the others, and I thought he 
was going to be like Papa. Fritz and I idolized him he had 
such dear, sweet, winning little ways, and was like a little sunbeam 
in the house. 

Now to see his little empty bed his clothes, his toys lying 
about, to miss him every hour and long oh so bitterly, so fondly 
and deeply to fold him once more to my heart it is such cruel 
suffering. My child, my child, is all I can say! I shall never see it 
more. I know he is spared sin and suffering. I know that his life 
was bright and happy as it was short. I feel that I left nothing 
undone which could have given him joy or comfort. I do not 
repine or refuse to take the comfort which God had mercifully 
granted, but I grieve even unto death. 

Thanks for thinking of me on Thursday. Yes it was trying 
and awful, but only for the nerves and the imagination, the blow 
had fallen, and what is the rest to be compared to it. For two days 
I could not shed a tear at the sad solemn ceremony.mine were 
the only dry eyes. I could not cry 1 My poor Fritz away and at so 
difficult and dangerous a post. It is a blessing for him that his 
mind must be occupied with other things. I will not give way. I 
mean to do my duty and neglect nothing work and occupation 
are the only things which can restore balance to my mind, not 
drown my grief or fill the blank in my heart. Oh no, no time can 
do that, that sweet little face will ever be there and the yearning 
for it, but I have many and sacred duties to live for and I will 

61 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1866 do them to the utmost of my power- for those other dear children, 
for my poor dear Fritz 1 

What our future may be is now very uncertain, when I doubted 
of that formerly, I used to think earthly goods were so unimportant 
as long as we had our little family circle unbroken, and I looked 
with pride and gratitude on our little flock of five. . . . 

Four days later, the Princess again wrote from the 
Neue Palais : 

You have written me three such dear letters, so kind, comforting 
and soothing. Many many thanks for them. If I ever anxiously 
expected your letters, it is now when all around share the violent 
excitement of the awful events passing around, and I alone feel that 
they cannot drive away my grief. My darling little Love is ever 
in my thoughts, dulling my sense to other things. A little child is 
no loss to the rest of the world, none miss it, but to me it is a 
part of myself, one of my chief interests in life. My little Sigie's 
loss has cast a gloom over this house and over my whole existence 
which will never quite wear off. My dear dear little boy. I keep 
saying that all day. Yesterday I packed up all the clothes I had 
worked for him all the winter with such pleasure, and that he 
looked so sweet and pretty in. Tomorrow morning we leave this 
place where I have been since the night in which Victoria was 
born it seems so strange to me to leave one of my little ones 
here. 

My Fritz writes to me very often, he has been in a battle, 
Heaven protect him. Everyone joins in his praise, which of course 
is very gratifying to me, his heart is sad and heavy, but he thinks 
of his duty before all he is so good oh, when shall I see him 
again, and when I do, what a meeting that will be. What have we 
both gone through since we parted. I know you think of us and 
feel for your children, dearest Mama, and that is most comforting 
to us. I say nothing about the war you know what I think, my 
head is too weak now to put my idea into a reasonable form. 
You will not think it unnatural, I know, that my feelings are on the 
side of my country and husband, though of course one can feel 
nothing but despair at being obliged to consider other Germans 
as one's enemies and wish for their destruction. ... I cannot 
describe what a cruel contradiction of feelings one has to pass 
62 



THE AUSTRIAN WAR 

through, but over all sounds my darling's last cry, and the tears 1866 
that I shed for all the poor fallen and wounded and their afflicted 
families flow over his little grave. . . . 

The Princess, putting her own sorrows aside, now 
turned her energies to the urgent and necessary work of 
aiding the war hospital service, and in her letter of July 5 
begged her mother to send some hospital supplies for the 
sufferers : 

What will you say [she wrote from Heringsdorf] to all that is 
going on? How terrible is this loss of life. . . . I work very hard 
to scrape together necessaries for the hospitals, but one finds all 
exertions cannot supply the wants which are so fearful and so 
immense. If you can send me something I should be so glad 
in our hospitals Austrians, Saxons and Prussians are all taken care 
of together therefore what you send will be for all the poor 
victims. Heaven grant it may soon be at an end. Sponges and 
old linen are most wanted. 

I am so overburdened with writing that I have not been able to 
answer any letters of condolence yet; all my time is devoted to 
what I can do to be of any use to Fritz. He is well, I am thank- 
ful to say ; but to know his precious life is exposed keeps me in 
such a tremble. He writes to me often and such kind beautiful 
letters. 

My little people are quite well and send you their love little 
Victoria is very fat and healthy. Will you say all that is tender 
and affectionate to dear good Lenchen 1 from me she knows that 
I think of her and how truly I love her and wish her every 
happiness. 

The brilliant rapidity with which the well-trained 
Prussian armies overwhelmed their Austrian opponents 
now brought in its train the lists of the slain and honours 
for the living. To the Crown Prince fell the glory of 
winning the battles of Nachod (June 27), Skalicz (June 
28) and Schweinschadel (June 29), and on July 3 came 

1 Princess Helena. 

63 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1866 the battle of Sadowa, or Koniggratz, with the total defeat 
of the Austrians. 

. . . What do you say [wrote the Crown Princess on July 9, 
1866] to all these dreadful battles ? Are you not a little pleased 
that it is our Fritz alone who has won all these victories ? You 
know how hard I tried to help in preventing the calamity of war, 
and how Fritz [did] too, but now it is there I am thankful to think 
that our cause under Fritz's leadership has been victorious. 

You cannot think how modest he is about it never seeking 
praise, always doing his duty. The soldiers adore him. I am told 
that when they get sight of him there is always a perfect burst of 
enthusiasm amongst them. He is leading a dreadfully hard life, 
but never complains. But the bodily fatigue of being seldom in 
bed, sometimes thirteen hours on horseback, is nothing, he says, to 
the exertion of directing so dangerous an undertaking and to all the 
violent emotions of the contest and the awful impressions of the 
horrors on the field of battle. To one so kind I know what the 
shock to his nerves must be. 

You know I am not blind or prejudiced, but I must say I 
have the greatest respect and admiration for our soldiers. I think 
they behave wonderfully. I hope you will read some of our papers 
to have an idea of what they have gone through. 

A week later she sent some details of the war, gathered 
from the impressions of eye-witnesses. However proud 
the Princess might be of the valour of the Prussian troops, 
there was one thing she could not forget, and that was 
that the war had been forced by Bismarck. 

. . . There is a good deal [she wrote on July 16] that will 
interest you, I think will you please send the papers back when 
you have done with them. Louise, Arthur, Major Elphinstone and 
Mr. Sahl and Fraulein Bauer may like to see them. I would rather 
Bertie did not, please, or that they did not go any further as they 
are not written for other people, but merely what is natural that a 
Prussian officer should write to his wife. 

You know I consider the war a mistake caused by the un- 
controlled power of an unprincipled man that I have no dislike 
to the poor Austrians in general and that therefore I really can 



THE AUSTRIAN WAR 

speak impartially. I assure you that if the rest of Europe did but 1866 
know the details of this war the light in which our officers and 
men and our public at large have shown themselves the Prussian 
people would stand high in the eyes of everyone, and I feel that I 
am now every bit as proud of being a Prussian as I am of being an 
Englishwoman and that is saying a very great deal, as you know 
what a " John Bull " I am and how enthusiastic about my home. 
I must say the Prussians are a superior race, as regards intelligence 
and humanity, education and kindheartedness and therefore I 
hate the people all the more who by their ill-government and mis- 
management, etc., rob the nation of the sympathies it ought to 
have. My affection to it is not blind but sincere for I respect 
and admire their valuable and sterling good qualities. 

I know quite well that they can be unamiable and make them- 
selves distasteful (there is no disputing tastes), that they have their 
little absurdities, etc., but at heart they are excellent. And the 
amiable engaging Austrians commit cruelties and barbarities which 
make one's hair stand on end. Fritz says he never could have 
credited it had he not been a witness to it himself. It is their bad 
education and their religion, I suppose. Oh, may the war soon 
cease, it is so horrible. I have lost so many acquaintances! 

I send you a photo of Miss Victoria it is not at all favourable 
she is such a dear pretty little thing and so lively she crows and 
laughs and jumps and begins to sit up and has short petticoats. If I 
was not continually reminded of what we have lost I should enjoy 
her so much and be proud of her too. . . . Henry and Willy are 
very good and do not give any trouble, they are very happy here. 

A few days later peace seemed probable between the 
belligerents, but the Crown Princess was not over- 
optimistic. 

. . , Peace [she wrote on July 27] seems to be doubtful again 
and I tremble lest the war should be taken up again as I feel 
certain there would be some more dreadful battles like the day of 
Koniggratz. Poor Uncle Alexander how I pity him to be minister 
at a time when all goes so ill. I am sure it is not his fault. 

The war with the minor states * seems sadder than that with 

1 Hanover, Saxony, Hesse-Cassel and other minor German 
states were on the side of the Austrians. 

F 65 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1866 Austria it is so much more trying to one's feelings that are all 
conflicting. "We have to thank no one but Bismarck for all this. 
If Germany arises more united, powerful, free and happy from this 
calamity, one may in time forget the wounds under which one 
now suffers, but it will never make the war appear justified in my 
eyes! 

I rejoice as a Prussian at the heroic conduct of our troops 
but my joy is damped with the fear that they have shed their 
blood in vain. With such a man and such principles at the head 
of our Government how can I look forward to satisfactory results 
for Germany, or for usl 

What with the cholera and the battles how many poor families 
are plunged into grief and distress. It is so sad! No heart can 
feel more for others than mine which is so heavy and sore I . . . 

The campaign proved, as the Danish campaign had 
proved, the soldier-like qualities of the Crown Prince, 
and it was with no little relief and pride that the Crown 
Princess welcomed him back again. On August 10 she 
wrote to her mother from Heringsdorf : 

The day after I wrote to you darling Fritz arrived. I drove 
into a wood with the children and met him there. We were much 
overcome and our feelings were of a most mingled nature, as you 
can easily understand. He is looking well, only thinner and 
perhaps a little older; at least his beard and his serious expression 
made him appear so. He has gone through a great deal, but is as 
humble and modest about all he has done as possible, which all 
really good and right-minded men must be. ... 

About the King of Hanover, he has received a letter from Uncle 
George, and the Grand Duke of Oldenburg comes here today to 
express the same wish. At this sad time one must separate one's 
feelings for one's relations quite from one's judgment of political 
necessities, or one would be swayed to and fro on all sides by the 
hopes, wishes and desires expressed by those one would be sorry 
to grieve ; it is one of the consequences resulting from this war. 
Nothing will or can ever shake Fritz's principles of sound liberalism 
and justice, but you know by experience that one must proceed in 
the direction given by the political events which have come to 
pass. Those who are now in such precarious positions might have 
66 



THE AUSTRIAN WAR 

quite well foreseen what danger they were running into ; they were 1866 
told beforehand what they would have to expect ; they chose to go 
with Austria and they now share the sad fate she confers on her 
Allies. Those who have taken our side or remained neutral are 
quite unharmed, for example Uncle Ernest, the Duke of Anhalt, 
the Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg, etc. . . . They all [i.e. those 
states which had sided with Austria] believed the untrue statement 
of Austria about the strength of her own forces, and would not 
see that Prussia was likely to be victorious, and so the poor things 
have broken their own necks. Oh, how cruel it is to have one's 
heart and one's head thus set at right angles! 

A liberal German-feeling reasonable Prussian Government would 
have prevented it all! But as it was not to be decided a VamlaUe^ 
as rivers of blood have flowed, and the sword decided this contest, 
the victor must make his own terms and they must be hard ones 
for many! 

I cannot and will not forget that I am a Prussian, but as such 
I know it is very difficult to make you, or any other non-German, 
see how our case lies. We have made enormous sacrifices, and the 
nation expects them not to be in vain. . . . 

Twelve days later (August 22) the treaty of peace was 
signed at Prague, and on January 24, 1867, Schleswig and 
Holstein were formally incorporated with Prussia. One 
of the terms of peace, however, was to be the occasion of 
much bitterness between the Crown Princess and Bis- 
marck. As a punishment for the action of Hanover in 
siding with Austria that state was annexed to Prussia 
(September 1866), and eighteen months later part of the 
private property of the King of Hanover was sequestrated. 

In the following years, in spite of the manifold activ- 
ities of state, the Princess devoted the greater part of her 
time to the education and upbringing of her sons, and it 
must have been with keen interest that she read such 
letters as the following from their tutor, Mr. Thomas 
Dealtry, on April 30, 1870, relative to their progress : 

67 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 As my readings with Prince William and Prince Henry of 
Prussia are about to close, I venture to represent to Your Royal 
Highness the impression I have received of your Royal sons and 
the gratification I have derived from assisting in their studies. 

After having enjoyed many opportunities of watching their 
characters and dispositions, I can truly say that one seldom meets 
with boys more engaging or of greater promise. 

Prince William has read with me, besides English history, most 
of Sir Walter Scott's and Macaulay's poetical works, Bishop Heber's 
Palestine^ and many of his minor poems, and selections from Tenny- 
son and other English authors. Many pieces he has committed to 
memory. His Royal Highness has, I think, advanced satisfactorily 
in his knowledge of the English language, and has evinced a real 
love for English literature. His interest in his studies has added 
much to the enjoyment of the hours I have passed with him. His 
pronunciation and accent still need cultivation. 

I have been greatly struck with his generous and manly instincts. 
Indeed both the Princes are remarkable for their gentlemanly tone 
of thought and feeling. Prince Henry is as far advanced as most 
boys of his age. 

I do not think they could be better trained than they are, and 
I am sure their progress and growing intelligence will repay the 
unceasing and devoted care of their excellent Governor. 

A little later, on May 28, 1870, the Princess herself 
wrote from Bornstaedt to Queen Victoria on the subject 
of her eldest son : 

The poor arm is no better, and William begins to feel being 
behind much smaller boys in every exercise of the body he cannot 
run fast, because he has no balance, nor ride, nor climb, nor cut 
his food, etc. ... I wonder he is as good-tempered about it. 
His tutor thinks he will feel it much more, and be much unhappier 
about it as he grows older, and feels himself debarred from every- 
thing which others enjoy, and particularly so as he is so strong and 
lively and healthy. It is a hard trial for him and for us. Nothing 
is neglected that can be done for it, but there is so little to be 
done. Whenever we have the good fortune of going to England 
again, Mr. Paget and the first surgeons must see it, although I 
know that it is but little use. We have Langenbeck's advice, and 
he is one of the best surgeons of the day. 
68 



THE AUSTRIAN WAR 

Every possible avenue was explored by the Crown 1870 
Princess to secure for her eldest son the full employment 
of his injured arm, but all proved unavailing. From time 
to time she would alternate between hope and fear ; hop- 
ing passionately that fresh treatment might cure the ill, 
and then again reduced to despair by the failure of each 
successive effort. 



CHAPTER IV 
THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

1870 SCARCELY had Europe recovered from the Danish and 
Austrian wars of 1864 and 1866 when, in the summer of 
1870, the tocsin of war was again sounded, 

Bismarck wanted war. Napoleon III. wanted war. 
History teaches that there has never been the slightest 
difficulty in finding a pretext for war when one is wanted, 
but while Napoleon's object was to retain his throne, 
Bismarck thought that by war and war alone could the 
unity of Germany be achieved. Napoleon III. thought his 
army was ready, while Bismarck knew the Prussian war 
machine was in perfect working order. 

It was the domestic difficulties of Spain that gave them 
the opportunity they wanted, each being under the de- 
lusion that he could cloud the issue and put the other in 
the wrong. The Spaniards, having driven Queen Isabella 
from the throne in September 1868 under the false im- 
pression that they were cleansing the country from corrup- 
tion, became hopelessly divided when it came to choosing 
a new form of government and proved themselves wholly 
incapable of settling their own domestic troubles. Bis- 
marck, realising that France would or must in certain 
eventualities intervene, manoeuvred to make what would 
appear to the world to be the free choice of a ruler by 
the Spaniards an occasion for such intervention. Marshal 
Prim, who was virtually the dictator of Spain, although 
70 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

a puppet of Bismarck, was encouraged to ask for the 1870 
Roman Catholic Prince Leopold, the eldest son of Prince 
Anthony of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. After protracted 
negotiations lasting several months this German Prince 
declined, but at Bismarck's instigation Marshal Prim re- 
newed his offer. 

On March 12, 1870, the Crown Princess wrote to 
Queen Victoria, begging her advice in the intricate 
matter : 

. . . Now I must give a message from Fritz, in fact it is no 
business of mine, but he wishes me to write it to you in his name, 
and to consider it most profoundly secret. 

General Prim has sent a Spaniard here with several autograph 
letters from himself to Leopold Hohenzollern, urging him most 
earnestly to accept the crown of Spain, saying he would be elected 
by two-thirds of the Cortes. They do not wish the French to 
know it, but the King, Prince Hohenzollern, Leopold and Fritz, 
wish to know your opinion in private. . . . 

Neither the King, nor Prince Hohenzollern, nor Antoinette 
(Princess Leopold), nor Leopold, nor Fritz are in favour of the 
idea, thinking it painful and unpleasant to accept a position which 
has legitimate claimants. General Prim makes it very pressing, and 
that is the reason why they want a little time to consider whether 
it be right or no to give a refusal. Here no one as yet knows any- 
thing about it. Will you please let me have an answer which I 
can show the persons mentioned ? Perhaps you would write it in 
German to Fritz, as it is particularly disagreeable to me to be a 
medium of communication in things so important and serious. 

It seems the Spaniards are determined to have no agnate of the 
Bourbon family. 

In the following months there appeared to be every 
possibility of the negotiations being successful in solving 
the difficulty. On July 4, 1870, however, Prince Leopold 
accepted the Prussian nomination, and King William 
accorded his permission. 

The news of the Hohenzollern candidature came like a 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 bombshell and startled Europe. The Emperor Napoleon 
and M. Ollivier, the virtual head of the French Ministry, 
hesitated before taking any step, but the Due de Gramont, 
the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, declared at once 
that the candidature could not be tolerated ; the Paris 
press took up the cry, and the Chamber supported the 
Due de Gramont in his vehement protest. The British 
Government, Queen Victoria, the King of the Belgians 
and other friends of peace concentrated upon persuading 
Prince Leopold to withdraw his candidature. The Crown 
Princess, now recovering from the birth of her third 
daughter, the Princess Sophie, who was born on June 14, 
was bewildered by the sudden changes in the European 
kaleidoscope, and wrote on July 6 to Queen Victoria : 

After the Spanish crown had been decidedly refused by the 
Hohenzollerns and the King, the former have been applied to again, 
and, having changed their minds meanwhile, seem likely to accept 
it much to the King's and Queen's annoyance who wisely keep 
out of the matter and have nothing more to do with it, dreading, 
as we do, that complications may arise for Prussia, as it is easy 
more or less to identify the Hohenzollerns with us and with our 
government. I fear it is a sad mistake on the part of the Hohen- 
zollerns, though I have no doubt that Leopold and Antoinette 
are as fitted for such a place as the young Duke of Genoa, or 
many of the others who have been named. Still I cannot but 
regret their decision, not for Spain but for themselves and us. 
Fritz will send you a little memorandum on the subject by 
messenger ; he wishes you should know his opinion on this vexed 
subject. 1 

At the moment there took place a change in the British 
Foreign Secretaryship. On the death of Lord Clarendon, 
Lord Granville was appointed the Secretary of State for 
Foreign Affairs. Lord Granville had no sooner entered 

1 The Crown Prince's memorandum is given on pp. 22-24 of 
vol. ii. of Queen Victorias Letters. 

72 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

upon his new duties than he committed himself to the 1870 
unguarded statement that no cloud obscured the peace of 
Europe. Almost the first business, however, with which 
he was called upon to deal, was Prince Leopold's candida- 
ture for the Spanish crown, but fortunately in July he 
was able to announce that this provocative nomination 
had been withdrawn by Prussia. The Crown Princess, 
under the imminent dread of another war, hailed the news 
with relief. 

As you may suppose [she wrote to her mother on July 13], the 
agitation and suspense of the last few days have upset me terribly. 
. . . But thank goodness there seems more chance of a good turn 
in affairs, since we learn that Leopold Hohenzollern has resigned 
of his own accord of course the best thing he could do under 
the circumstances. Here everyone preaches peace and wishes for 
peace, and I have not heard one imprudent retort to the insulting 
language of France, which is enough to try one's patience. But if 
the French are determined to pick a quarrel with us, knowing (as 
they must) that they are well prepared and we not at all they 
cannot choose a better moment for themselves, nor a worse one 
for us, and I feel sure they will'push their audacity further and want 
the Rhine only England can prevent that. It was a great comfort 
to read in your dear letter of the pth, which I received on Monday 
and for which many thanks, that you also disapprove of the con- 
duct of France. My horror at the thoughts of a war in our own 
beloved country you can well imagine. War is horrible enough 
at all times for everyone but what the prospect of it is to wives 
and mothers is not to be described. Though I would not eat 
humble pie for the French on any account, I trust it may blow 
over. Fritz has been distracted he wrote to the King and to 
Bismarck and tried to do what he could at Berlin, but there is 
hardly a soul left there everyone is away at this time of the year 
and no one dreamt of complications of any kind. 

The danger, however, was far from dispelled. The 
Emperor of the French unwisely asked for a guarantee 
that Prussia would not repeat the offence. M. Benedetti, 

73 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 the French Ambassador in Berlin, pressed the demand 
upon the King of Prussia, who was then taking the waters 
at Ems, but received the reply that while the King ap- 
proved of Prince Leopold's withdrawal, he could give no 
guarantees for the future ; beyond that he had nothing 
to say. To Bismarck such a tame ending to an inter- 
national incident which had been so promising as a 
possible impasse was most disappointing, and he re- 
solved to make one more effort to render war inevitable. 
Napoleon HI. had put himself hopelessly in the wrong 
and such an opportunity as this might not occur again. 
Bismarck " edited " the official telegram from Ems, de- 
scribing these events, in such a way as to inflame opinion 
both in France and Germany, and to make war certain. 
France walked into the trap and declared war on July 15. 
Great Britain immediately proclaimed her neutrality, 
although public opinion was generally on the side of 
Prussia and most people thought that Napoleon III. and 
the French Government had no right to attempt to 
dictate to Germany. 

The certainty of war was a cruel shock to the Crown 
Princess, who, with many others, thought that France 
was the aggressor and harboured the fear that within a 
few months Hesse and the Rhine provinces would be 
overrun by the French. If the cry in Paris was " to 
Berlin ", that in Berlin was the far more moderate one of 
"to the Rhine' 5 . 

Whilst public opinion in England at first veered 
strongly to Germany's side, feeling in Germany towards 
England alternated between extremes of warmth and cold. 
Later on Germany had reason to complain of British 
" neutrality ". " We sit by ", wrote Sir Robert Morier, 
" like a bloated Quaker, too holy to fight, but nibbing 
74 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

our hands at the roaring trade we are doing in cartridges 1870 
and ammunition." * 

It was perhaps inevitable that the war should cause 
friction between the Crown Princess and the English 
Royal Family, although Queen Victoria made no secret 
of her sympathies for Germany. The Crown Princess, in 
ignorance of Bismarck's "editing" of the Ems telegram, 
and feeling that Germany had been wantonly attacked, 
took up the German cause with chauvinist enthusiasm, 
while her brother the Prince of Wales, still smarting from 
the behaviour of Germany to Denmark, was credited 
with French sympathies. At a dinner at the French Em- 
bassy in London he was reported to have expressed to the 
Austrian Ambassador, Count Apponyi, his hopes of 
Prussia's defeat and his anxiety that Austria might join 
France. The story, no doubt with embellishments, was 
embodied in a despatch from the Prussian Ambassador in 
London to Count von Bernstorffin Berlin. Its repetition 
in Prussian court circles soon reached the ear of the 
Crown Princess, who wrote to her mother from the 
Neue Palais on July 16, 1870 : 

You must forgive me if my letter is rambling and incoherent, 
fo-r my head is completely gone fright, agitation and sorrow have 
shaken my nerves very much. All hope is now at an end, and we 
have the horrible prospect of the most terrible war Europe has yet 
known before us, bringing desolation and ruin, perhaps annihila- 
tion. You would pity me if you knew what my moral and mental 
suffering is today, and yet the only way to go through such a 
trial is to keep cool brains and a stout heart and the latter I have. 

We have been shamefully forced into this war, and the feeling 
of indignation against an act of such crying injustice has risen in 
two days here to such a pitch that you would hardly believe it ; 
there is a universal cry " To arms " to resist an enemy who so 
wantonly insults us. 

1 The German Empire, W. H. Dawson, i. 346. 

75 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1 870 "We are grateful indeed to Providence that you are on the throne 
of England and that your Government has again so wisely and 
zealously advocated peace, and tried to call the French to their 
senses. The British sense of justice will I am sure not be blinded 
by the French press. BernstorfT writes that Bertie had expressed his 
delight to Count Apponyi that the Austrians were going to join the 
French and his hope that we should fare ill. This he is said to have 
loudly expressed at a dinner of the French Ambassador's. Perhaps 
it is exaggerated, but of course it is a story related everywhere. 

As soon as the rumour of the alleged indiscretion 
reached the ears of the Prince of Wales, he at once denied 
that he had made any such statement, and wrote to Mr. 
Gladstone that the story lacked any foundation in truth. 
So the incident ended officially, but there were many 
people in Berlin who continued to believe that the Prince 
of Wales was in sympathy with French aspirations and 
that the Crown Princess, his sister, was tainted in like 
manner. 

In the meantime, however, the Crown Princess wrote 
to her mother from the Neue Palais on July 18, 1870 : 

... In the midst of sorrow, distress and trouble, the thought 
of you is always a comforting and a cheering one. I saw the 
King yesterday. I never felt so much for anyone he was very 
calm, but the load of anxiety seemed to make him ten years older 
he had a quiet dignity about him which could only increase 
one's love and respect. If you could but see Fritz, how you would 
admire him. He thinks so little of himself and only of others. It 
is a dreadful trial for us enough to strike terror into stronger 
hearts than mine, but the enthusiasm which seems to be the same 
with young and old, poor and rich, high and low, men and women, 
is so affecting and beautiful that one must forget oneself. The 
odds are fearfully against us in the awful struggle which is about 
to commence and which we are forced into against our will, 
knowing that our existence is at stake. In a week the flower of 
the nation will be under arms, the best blood of the country. I 
cannot think of the lives that will be lost, the thought maddens me 
how willingly would I give mine to save theirs. There is not a 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

family not torn asunder, not a woman's heart that is not near to 1870 
breaking, and for what ? Oh that England could help us. I wish 
no ill to France, nor to anyone, but I wish Europe could unite, 
once for all to stop her ever again having it in her power to force 
a war upon another nation. Think of Hesse, of our lovely Rhine, 
think of our ports and sea towns. The harvest lost and thousands 
of poor creatures without work or bread. It seems all a horrid 
dream to me. Forgive my bad writing, my hand trembles so, and 
I cannot collect my thoughts. The parting from Fritz I shudder at. 
Alice and Louise of Baden must come to us the King offers 
Alice this Palace, and I am preparing all for her in case she should 
come. The future is a perfect blank. What suffering may be in 
store for us we do not know, but one thing we all know that 
as our honour and the safety of our country are at stake, no 
sacrifice must be shunned. Our feelings are best expressed by 
altering Lord Nelson's words to " Germany expects every man to 
do his duty ". . . . 

What a sad Christmas it will be! I am as well as can be 
expected and try very hard not to make a fool of myself, which is 
difficult, as my nerves are shaky. I have just this moment received 
your dear letter of the i6th for which many thanks. It is a great 
satisfaction to us that you are angry with the French for their 
behaviour. The King and everyone are horrified at Bertie's speech 
which is quoted everywhere. I wish I might say it is not true. . . 

To this Queen Victoria replied from Osborne on 
July 20 : 

Words are too weak to say all I feel for you or what I think of 
my neighbours! We must be neutral as long as we can, but no one 
here conceals their opinion as to the extreme iniquity of the war, and 
the unjustifiable conduct of the French! Still more, publicly, we 
cannot say ; but the feeling of the people and the country here is 
all with you, which it was not before. And need I say what Ifeel? . . . 

My heart bleeds for you all\ The awful suddenness of die thing 
is so dreadful. Do not overworry yourself, not to make yourself 
ill. Poor Alice makes us all very anxious, and she seems anxious 
not to leave Darmstadt. I have no doubt that you will both advise 
her for the best. My thoughts are constantly with you, wishing 
your two daughters could be safe here. These divided interests in 

77 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 royal families are quite unbearable. Human nature is not made for 
such fearful trials, especially not mothers* and wives' hearts. But 
God will watch over you all, I doubt not. You have the wannest 
sympathy of all, and all the people in the house take the deepest 
interest in you. . . . 

Before the end of the first month of the war France 
lost battle after battle and the success of the Germans 
foretold the ultimate result. There were three armies of 
invasion under the supreme command of the King of 
Prussia, on whose staff were Moltke, Bismarck and Roon 
(the War Minister). The first army was under the Bang's 
personal direction, and the second under Prince Frederick 
Charles, the King's brother. The third, consisting of the 
South German troops, together with the Xlth and Vth 
Prussian Army Corps, was under the command of the 
Crown Prince, whose Chief of Staff was his " old and 
trusty friend " Lieut-General von Blumenthal. Amongst 
the officers appointed to the staff of this army was Count 
Seckendorff, who afterwards became the Chamberlain 
and the trusted friend and adviser of the Crown Princess. 
The anxiety of the Crown Princess was acute, and all 
her fears were poured out to her mother, to whom, on 
July 22, she wrote : 

Your very dear and kind letter was indeed a sunbeam in the 
darkness of this sad time, for which I thank you from my heart. 
The days seem like years, with this awful calamity hanging over 
us not one passes without many many tears being shed. Today 
I parted from dear Uncle Ernest (who had only reached Berlin the 
previous day from Fiume). We both broke down. Dearest Papa's 
only brother. It seemed so dreadful. But one must not think of 
this now. All one's energies and all one's courage are wanted to 
meet the future and the worst that it may bring. All is still un- 
decided as to our plans. Fritz commands the South Germans, the 
armies of the Kings of Wurtemberg and Bavaria, besides the troops 
of Baden, and a Prussian Army Corps (his own from Stettin). It 

78 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

is a dreadful position for him, as the Bavarian and Swabian troops 1870 
are so inefficient and undisciplined that they are of very little use 
their leaders are more a hindrance than otherwise, but the King 
and the Generals could entrust this most difficult task to no one 
but Fritz. He is looking ill, and the wear on his nerves is very 
great; at times he is quite overwhelmed and sheds bitter tears, 
but on the whole he has a clear idea of what he intends and the 
greatest confidence in the feeling of the people. 

I contradicted Bertie's speech energetically and was so glad to 
do so. 

I am very busy indeed, but feel pretty well of course my 
nerves excepted, which will not recover from such an upset in a 
hurry. Pray read the Folks Zeltung and the Kolnuche Zeltung 
they will give you all the news. 

Dear Uncle Ernest goes with Fritz. 

I trust dear Alice will come here later. I think it would be 
better. I have had no time to write to her. The enthusiasm is 
grand and imposing. There is something so pure and elevated 
about it so sacred and calm and serious that when I see our 
finest and noblest men all joining and collecting round their aged 
Sovereign, they seem to me to be indeed " The noble army of 
martyrs ". How many will return ? 

I am not afraid nor cast down, for I cannot but think that this 
feeling must give an almost invincible force to our arms. We are 
prepared for all sorts of reverses and misfortunes and to meet 
them with courage and patience and try not to give way. Could 
you and would you send me some old linen, lint and coarse poor 
men's shirts, also some oiled silk? Perhaps the sisters would collect 
some and send it to me it will be used alike for friend and foe 
so it will in no way interfere with your neutrality. 

I hope that I shall always be able to hear from you and 
write to you, but of course I do not know. Could you not keep 
a special messenger going between us and you? England's posi- 
tion on the continent and her continental trade will suffer from 
her neutrality, but I suppose you cannot help it. The French have 
really behaved too ill, and surely they are playing a desperate 
game. . . . 

Baby (the Princess Sophie) is to be christened on Sunday at 
i o'clock. How it makes me think of my darling Sigie, and long 
for him back, and how I tremble for fear anything should happen 

79 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 to one of the others in this fearful time. Pray thank dear Arthur, 
dear Lenchen, Bertie and Louise for their kind letters it was so 
comforting and soothing to me to read them. 

Wegner, Count Eulenberg, Count SeckendorfF, M. Schleinitz 
and Major Mischke go with Fritz. His Staff is composed of 
General Blumenthal, Colonel Gatberg, Majors Lenke and Hahnke 
and a lot of South Germans he will most likely go on Monday 
or Tuesday. I dare not think of it. ... 

The following day the Crown Prince returned to the 
Neue Palais for the baptism of his "engaging little 
daughter Sophie '*, which took place on the 24th " with 
the traditional ceremonial and the utmost display of pomp 
and parade ". 1 On the 25th the Crown Princess wrote 
to Queen Victoria : 

. . . The Christening went off well, but was sad and serious ; 
anxious faces and tearful eyes, and a gloom and foreshadowing 
of all the misery in store spread a cloud over the ceremony, which 
should have been one of gladness and thanksgiving. 

My sweet little Sophie was very good and only cried a little 
bit, but Waldy and Vicky cried and did not like it at all ; they 
were frightened at the clergyman's voice and energetic gesticula- 
tions, and Vicky kept sobbing, " Don't let the man hurt baby ". 
The King said he could not hold the child, he felt too weak, so 
the Queen had to hold her ; it was a general leave-taking, as I 
shall see none of the family any more before they leave. Poor little 
Sophie's first step in this world is not ushered in with any bright 
omens, and her Mama's heart was heavy and weary in spite of the 
beauty of the day, the sunshine and the flowers without 

The feeling is very general here that England would have had it 
in her power to prevent this awful war, had she in concert with 
Russia, Austria and Italy, declared she would take arms against 
the aggressor, and that her neutrality afforded France advantages 
and us disadvantages. 

France can buy English horses as her ships can reach England, 
whereas ours cannot on account of the French fleet. Lord Gran- 

1 The War Diary of the Emperor Frederick, July 23. 
80 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

ville is supposed to take sides decidedly with the Emperor. God 1870 
knows how it all may end I 

Fritz and I took the Sacrament this morning ; he does not leave 
today, but expects to do so tomorrow or the day after. I cannot 
bear to think of it. ... 

Early next morning, at half-past five, the Crown 
Prince left the Neue Palais. That day he wrote in his 
Diary : 

. . . As my wife and I had agreed that, whenever my departure 
was settled we would bid one another no formal farewell, I had told 
her nothing yesterday of my start being suddenly fixed for this 
morning and so spared her the actual final good-bye before the war 
by giving her no explicit reason for my leaving at such an early 
hour. Only when I was already on my way did my little daughter 
Victoria, who saw me off crying and sobbing and would not let me 
go, convey a line or two from me that told her how things stood. 
My children, on the contrary, knew that I was bound for the scene 
of action but I must not let my thoughts dwell on those moments. 

To her letter to Queen Victoria, written the previous 
evening, the Crown Princess now added the postscript 
(July 26) : 

I sat up till late last night waiting for Fritz's return, and went 
to sleep before he came. This morning before I woke he got up, 
and when I asked where he was I was told he had gone back to 
Berlin, and I found a slip of paper from him saying that he was 
gone to the Army and had wished to spare me a leave-taking. 
The thought was so kind, and yet now I feel as if my heart would 
break ; he is gone without a kiss or a word of farewell, and I do 
not know whether I shall ever see him again! I hardly know what 
I am writing, as my head aches with crying and I cannot stop my 
tears. My own darling Fritz Heaven protect and watch over his 
precious life! Oh that I could be with him and share all dangers, 
fatigues and anxieties with him. How willingly would I change 
places with any of his servants! . . . 

To the Crown Princess's appeal in her letter of July 22 
" for some old linen, lint and coarse poor men's shirts, 

G 81 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 also some oiled silk " for the wounded. Queen Victoria, 
with constitutional correctness, pointed out that it would 
be difficult to send them ostensibly as it might be inter- 
preted in an unfriendly light by France. On August 4 
the Crown Princess replied : 

I have just received your dear letter of the ist. I know how 
difficult your position must be you the Sovereign of a constitu- 
tional country and a neutral power, I can quite understand that 
it may be awkward for you to send me things for the wounded 
ostensibly though I should have imagined you could have sent 
either to the Empress of the French, or to me without appearing 
partial. A wounded man has ceased to be an enemy, and only a 
suffering human creature, entitled to everyone's help. I think the 
International Society to which we belong holds this doctrine. I 
hope I am only doing what you wish in writing openly what I 
hear and see and think. I only write as a private individual to you 
as my dear Mama at the same time thinking it may be agreeable 
and useful to you to hear what is thought and said on this side of 
the water from an unofficial source. I am looked upon with sus- 
picious eyes, as England is supposed to lean to the other side, and 
Lord Granville and Mr. Cardwell looked upon as French. All this 
is indeed most trying to you, but your long routine, your firmness 
and political experience will carry you through it all, I hope and 
trust to the honour and glory of yourself and beloved England. 
I see so much in the English press which confirms me. The French 
have begun war in a very ugly way bombarding an open town 
(Saarbriick) and bringing up three Divisions against a Battalion 
of Infantry and a Cavalry Regiment, seventy of our men and two 
of our officers are killed. This I suppose you know already. 

I have a sprained hand (or rather wrist) so I write with con- 
siderable difficulty and you must excuse my scrawl. I must end in 
a great hurry. I have letters from my darling Fritz from Stuttgart 
and Carlsruhe and Speyer. He says that the feeling among the 
South Germans is so cordial that he finds no difference with the 
Prussians, indeed feels quite at home with them ; his reception was 
something quite extraordinary. Pray read Freiligrath's beautiful 
Poem in the Folks Zeitung of yesterday. 

Two days later, on August 6, a decisive German vic- 
82 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

tory was won at Worth by the army commanded by the 1870 
Crown Prince, who defeated the French army of the 
Rhine under Marshal MacMahon. The victory followed 
closely upon the first success of Weissenburg which, as 
the Crown Prince noted in his Diary on August 9, 

made much more impression on men's minds than that of the second 
success reported immediately after the other. But Worth is a vic- 
tory of historical significance, for, apart from its importance as a 
military triumph, it is notable for the French having been beaten for 
the first time since 1815 in a pitched battle. How wonderful that of 
all others it was given to me, who could never have looked for such 
a thing, to go straight into action in the first line. 

The victory of Worth delighted the Crown Princess, 
who wrote to Queen Victoria on August u : 

You will I know not be angry with me for availing myself of 
dear Marie Goltz's kindly lent hand to write you this letter, as I 
am lying down to take a little rest, of which I feel the need. I 
have this moment received your dear and kind letter of the 8th, 
for which I hasten to send my tenderest thanks. I am touched and 
delighted at seeing your true joy at my beloved Fritz's victory I 
The children's Governor, Lieutenant O'Danne, has arrived here 
this morning, despatched by Fritz, and bringing me the enclosed, 
which I beg you to return to me. I am sure the description of the 
Battle of Worth in Fritz's own hand will interest you ; it is so 
modest and like his own dear self. Lt. O'Danne was present at the 
battle and was fiill of admiration of Fritz's calmness during the 
long hours that he commanded, for this fearful battle lasted twelve 
hours. Lt. O'Danne says Fritz is well, and of course very busy 
indeed. 

You ask whether I have lost any friends or acquaintances. 
Alas! one hears everyday of new ones! An old friend of Christian's, 
Major SenfF, formerly in the same regiment as Christian, was torn 
to pieces by a shell. Poor man, he was always full of joke and 
fun. 

Then last night I went to see poor old General Esebeck and his 
wife, who have lost their second son, who leaves a wife just going 

83 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 to be confined and a little child. They have just been married two 
years and were very happy. The poor mother's grief was heartrend- 
ing to see. Then a brother-in-law of Herr von Schweinitz's has 
been badly wounded and also Lt. Miiller, my former Page. General 
Bose, one of our ablest officers, is badly wounded in the foot. 

We are hourly expecting to hear of another great and awful 
battle, most likely not far from Metz, as the French seem to be 
collecting all their forces for a great effort. The eagerness and 
trembling with which we devour the telegrams is not to be told ! 
How thankful we shall be when this dreadful time is over and one 
can once more live in peace. 

260 wounded Prussians arrived at Berlin yesterday ; today a 
train of wounded French has arrived. I must tell you, and you will 
be glad to hear, that the captured and wounded French are every- 
where treated with great kindness and consideration. 

When I said the odds were fearfully against us, when the war 
first broke out, I was of the opinion of most people, that the French 
would have overran the Rhine before we could get our troops 
ready. Fritz never expected he would be able to get his Army 
together, as he thought the French would occupy the Palatinate, 
Darmstadt and Baden, and prevent the troops from concentrating. 
What their treatment of our towns would have been, we have seen 
by their barbarous bombardment and burning of the inoffensive 
town of Saarbrucken. We feared that our fertile provinces of the 
Rhine would be devastated and the battles fought on the German 
side. This was the pleasant prospect we contemplated three weeks 
ago, but I never doubted what our success would be if we had 
the chance of having our forces assembled. I was in Berlin yester- 
day and visited the temporary hospital camp of wooden huts which 
is being built with marvellous rapidity on the Kreuzberg, a very 
healthy situation. The undertaking is directed by our best scientific 
heads, and will I am sure be a success. They are draining the 
ground, digging wells, making a temporary railway, laying on gas 
and telegraph. It will be for the accommodation of 1600. It is 
being done by the State, and the town, and a Committee to which 
I contribute. 

I afterwards went to the Town Hall to see the depot of linen 
and hospital requisites, such as bandages, bedding and cloth. The 
stuffs are bought by the afore-named Committee and made up, 
either by a quantity of ladies who assemble there daily, or by the 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

wives of soldiers who receive payment for what they do. In the 1870 
afternoon I visited my Victoria Bazaar, which is employed in the 
same way and which will provide Darmstadt and Carlsruhe with 
hospital linen. Each mark of sympathy on the part of England 
gives pleasure and is thankfully acknowledged. Kind donations 
of Manchester and Liverpool have been gratefully received and 
joyously hailed. The misery and the suffering is immense, and will 
be greater, but I must say, I do not think there is a female in the 
country of whatever class she may be who does not do her utmost 
to alleviate the sufferings of friend and foe, and contribute her 
last penny towards doing so. It is a great labour of love which 
comforts many an anxious and aching heart, while it occupies the 
fevered brain. 

I hope and trust to get permission to go and settle at Homburg 
and get up a small hospital at my own expense. I have got a good 
many things together for this purpose already, and different kinds 
of gifts, which go a little way towards fitting up. 

I was still very tired from yesterday's exertions and my sleep 
and appetite are not always of the best, but on the whole I get on 
very well, and my sweet little Sophie grows and improves and is 
my comfort and pleasure. 

The elder children do not understand much of what is going 
on in spite of seeing and hearing. Willy and Vicky, each in their 
way, show much interest in the events of the day. . . . 

The victory of Worth brought the Crown Prince 
showers of congratulatory messages. On August 19 he 
noted in his Diary : 

... An extraordinary amount of praise has been lavished on 
me, far more than I deserve. But is it not a strange thing that I, who 
much preferred to earn recognition in works of peace,, am called 
upon to win such blood-stained laurels ? In time to come may the 
peaceful part of my efforts be all the more beneficent. Even from 
England come tokens of appreciation for my victory, a thing that 
pleases me infinitely. Thus, for instance, Lord Granville, in a 
private letter to my wife, has strongly repudiated the notion that 
his policy was guided by sympathy for France. 1 

1 The War Diary of the Emperor Frederick, p. 63. 

85 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 In her letter dated August 4 to Queen Victoria, the 
Crown Princess had warmly applauded " Freiligrath's 
beautiful poem ", and she was pleased and complimented 
to learn from Queen Victoria, who wrote on August 17, 
that it had been translated into English by Mr. Theodore 
Martin. Three days later the Crown Princess, still im- 
mersed in hospital duties, replied : 

How beautifully Mr. Martin has translated Freiligrath's poem. 
The article of the Daily Telegraph for which I thank you very 
much is very nice indeed. I am so glad to think our papers do 
Fritz justice as he deserves. I send you some photographs of the 
boys which have just been done. I saw some more wounded this 
morning. Fritz and the Queen are both for my going to Homburg, 
therefore if the King allows, I shall go there soon. . . . 

The excitement here yesterday in consequence of the news of 
the battle on the i8th was very great, and most anxiously are we 
expecting details, but I hear that Louis and his brothers are safe, 
and I suppose the rest of our Princes are so. We are anxiously 
expecting tidings from Paris. A revolution there does not seem so 
imminent as it was, but I am very glad I am not in the Empress's 
position; the Emperor's, too, must be a dreadful one. How well I 
remember this time 15 years ago; who would have thought then 
that the Emperor would take such an end! But how is a govern- 
ment to be carried on for the good of a nation, when there is such 
awful corruption and bribery amongst all the servants of State, 
for the Emperor has hardly a person about him, who is respectable. 
How ill Benedetti, Gramont, Ollivier and Lebceuf have served 
him, for it is mainly owing to them that he has got into this 
scrape. Ever since the Emperor's health has been failing, the pres- 
tige of his genius has been waning and he has made one blunder 
after another. It is a melancholy history. 

All attention was now concentrated upon the two 
French armies under Marshal Bazaine and Marshal Mac- 
Mahon respectively. The first, beleaguered in Metz, was 
now surrounded by the Germans, and the second, which 
the Emperor Napoleon had joined, had an army of a 
86 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

quarter of a million on its track. Much controversy mean- 1870 
while had raged over the question as to which of the armies 
the French or the German was the better armed. 
The Germans were armed, as in the campaigns of 1864 
and 1866, with the needle-gun, but the French were armed 
with the breech-loading Chassepot rifle. The Crown 
Princess's views on this and on other war items may be 
gathered from her letter to Queen Victoria on August 26 : 

We hear fresh distressing news every day ; it would be no use 
my telling you the names of all the unhappy victims as you do 
not know them. To us all it is most melancholy as they were our 
friends, and we are surrounded by their mourning relatives. The 
one that is the greatest loss personally to us, is Herr von Jasmund, 
Fritz's former Aide-de-Camp, with whom he was very intimate. 
He has left his poor little wife behind with a child of two years 
old. He was a most devoted, attached, trustworthy and excellent 
creature. It is too sad. Langenbeck, whom you remember, has 
also lost his eldest son. Countess Alvensleben, Marianne's Grande 
Maitresse, has lost both her sons. I could tell you endless tidings 
of woel The exasperation against the French grows with every 
day, which is but natural, seeing that it is they who brought on 
this war, and not we who would have it, that we are obliged 
to sacrifice almost all the most valuable lives in the country to 
resist their overbearing and unjust interference. That they feel 
this themselves I had a new proof of today. Baron Perglas, the 
Bavarian Minister, told me that upon the Duke of Gramont being 
interpellated about bringing on the war so unjustifiably, and get- 
ting the French into such a scrape, said : " La guerre n'e*tait pas 
inevitable, il y avait vingt manieres d'arranger cette affaire. Mais 
j*ai demande* a Lebceuf etes-vous prt? il m*a repondu archi- 
pre"t." How doubly wrong it was of the Ministers to push the 
Emperor into such a disaster. Of course I feel the greatest pity for 
thousands of innocent French who are of course not answerable 
for their Government. I think that Fritz and I feel heartily sorry 
for them ; but in the public at large there is very little commisera- 
tion of course. They will never own themselves in the wrong, and 
go on making the most outrageous inventions. 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 I had a letter today from Fritz dated the i8th, and yesterday one 
of his servants arrived. Fritz had been to see the King at Pont-a- 
Mousson and is now continuing his march on the route to Paris. 
I have not the slightest idea whether there will be another bloody 
battle or not. I should fear there would be one more before Paris, 
and perhaps another desperate attempt of the French to leave Metz. 
Their far-famed Army is no doubt very good, but their men not 
to be compared to ours. Their Chassepots are far better than our 
needle-guns and give them an advantage ; their mitrailleuses are 
very destructive, but are unable to dismay our brave soldiers. . . . 
"We are all well, and of course my nerves often feel very shaken, 
as everyone's must, particularly when I have been seeing the 
unfortunate mourners and sufferers. It is so kind of you all to 
work so much for the wounded and take so much interest in them. 
I think there is no one that would not wish to help them. In 
Berlin and Potsdam they are really very well off, but all along the 
Rhine we hear very different accounts. Alas! dear Marie Goltz 
is not going with me. How much I shall miss her! Her husband 
and brothers are well however. I trust the neutral Powers will not 
interfere with us as to the terms of peace ; they did not prevent 
the war, nor help us to fight it, so I trust they will let us make 
our own terms, and not intercede in favour of the aggressor. This 
would be a great misfortune in more than one point of view, and 
we are delighted to see by the Times that it is not likely. 

I must end here, my beloved Mama, kissing your dear hand 
many times and thanking you most tenderly for your dear letter 
which was such a pleasure to receive. On this dear day I think of 
former happy years when all was unbroken and unclouded peace 
and happiness and none of us knew what sorrows, trials and 
anxieties were in store for us! How the world has changed since 
then! and yet if one examines carefully one can trace the threads 
of present evils far back, and many words of dear Papa's come 
back to me now, and I see how right he was and how true all he 
said. Darling Papa, I think of him with greater yearning as the 
time goes on. Oh, why cannot he be here to help us all on 
often one feels weary and tired, and I suppose he felt so too some- 
times so we dare not grudge him the blessed rest of the just 
that have run their course and fought a good fight, but remember 
him with loving, grateful, yet aching hearts, as he has left a blank, 
never, never to be filled up in this life. 
88 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

Will you please give my love to all the dear Geschwister, in 1870 
particular Bertie and Alix. I am sure dear Bertie must envy Fritz 
who has such a trying, but such a useful life. I had rather see 
him serve his country than sit by my side, though Heaven knows 
how wretched it is to be so much alone as I am and to be in 
perpetual anxiety. I hope you are well and that all this agitation 
does not affect you too much. 

Meanwhile, the Crown Princess's efforts to render 
the German hospital system more efficient had met with 
little support, or even approval, from the authorities. 
" My wife ", wrote the Crown Prince in his Diary on 
August 23, " is going to Homburg with the object of 
establishing a model hospital there and inspecting those 
on the Rhine, which are in a sad state. In Berlin and 
Potsdam all her endeavours and offers of help in the 
matter of tending the sick were contemptuously rejected, 
presumably on account of the anti-British feeling!" Such 
was the opposition with which the Princess had to contend 
even in so necessary a matter as the provision of ade- 
quate nursing services for the wounded! 

On September i there came for Prussia the crown- 
ing victory of Sedan, where the Emperor Napoleon and 
MacMahon's army of 120,000 men were surrounded and 
defeated. The Emperor surrendered next day and was 
sent to "Wilhelmshohe in CasseL In Paris the news 
brought about a revolution, which replaced the imperial 
regime by a Republic, and compelled the Empress Eugenie 
to fly to England. The news surprised and excited the 
Princess, who wrote to Queen Victoria on September 6 : 

. . . What astounding news! really I could hardly believe my 
ears when I heard it here the excitement and delight of the people 
knew no bounds. 

Poor Emperor, his career has ended, and he brought his fall 
upon himself, and one cannot but pity him, especially for having 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 been the unhappy cause of so much bloodshed and so much woe 
which never never can be cured! So many hearths made dismal, 
so many happy homes miserable, so many hearts broken, and above 
all so many unfortunate men groaning in untold suffering! Un- 
happy Emperor, he has all this to answer for, and yet he is a kind- 
hearted and feeling man! He has done the best thing he could for 
himself under the circumstances; he is sure of the most chivalrous 
and generous treatment at the hands of the King, and he has of 
his own free-will surrendered to his equal, which is not so humiliat- 
ing as being driven from throne and country by an infuriated 
populace. Such a downfall is a melancholy thing, but it is meant 
to teach deep lessons. May we all learn what frivolity, conceit and 
immorality lead to! The French people have trusted in their own 
excellence, have completely deceived themselves. Where is their 
army ? Where are their statesmen ? They despised and hated the 
Germans, whom they considered it quite lawful to insult. How 
they have been punished! Whether the war be at an end, or no, 
we do not know, having had no letters or details since these last 
events, but as there is no French Army left I do not see with 
whom we are to fight ? The march to Paris is continued, and what 
difficulties our Army will have to encounter there I do not the 
least know. It would be grievous for Art's sake for that beautiful 
capital to suffer. I trust it will not come to that. Whether the 
Republic will be inclined to make peace who can tell ? I fear not. 
What has become of the Empress and Prince Imperial we have 
not heard, poor things! I hope they are in safety they will most 
likely never see their lovely Paris again! When I think of '48 and 
*55, and even of last December, when I last saw the Emperor and 
Empress, it seems like a dream. But even then everyone felt that 
the Empire was standing as it were on a barrel of gunpowder, and 
that ilie least spark would set fire to the whole thing, and no 
wonder that with such triflers as the Due de Gramont and MM. 
Ollivier and Benedetti the conflagration soon began. Had the 
Emperor been his former self and held the reins of Government 
tightly it would perhaps not have happened ; but his health and 
energy are gone he had grown apathetic and incapable of direct- 
ing matters himself, and as despotism always falls his reign has 
ended more like the bursting of a soap bubble than the fall of a 
mighty monument, which buries all beneath its ruins! What a 
retribution it seems for the bloody drama of Mexico and for the 

90 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

treatment of the Orleans! These latter have lost all sympathy in 1870 
Germany since the abominable letter of Prince de Joinville exciting 
the populace to defend themselves and get rid of the enemy by 
murdering the German soldiers in cold blood! I think it too bad! 
Voices are heard everywhere in all classes in defence of Germany 
regaining her old provinces of Elsass and Lothringen. I cannot 
say I think it a good thing, but I do not see how the Government 
are to resist the resolute determination of the German nation to 
wrest them back at all hazards 1 I have been to Frankfurt today, 
over the hospitals and seeing the different notabilities everybody 
is most patriotic. 

"We have now no less than 120,000 French prisoners in Ger- 
many! Is it not marvellous? Add to that more tian fifty Generals 
and the Sovereign himself! And even now the French will not 
believe that they have been really and fairly defeated. They attri- 
bute it all to chance and accident, and denied each of our victories. 
Dear Alice was with me for a day. I think she is really very- 
well and strong on the whole and does a great deal. I do hope 
Louis will soon be able to return to her! I think my being here 
is of some slight use and does good. I am able to set much to rights, 
but it is hard work for her, with the darling baby to care for ; 
however, I manage to get on very well on the whole not staying 
too long in the bad air of the hospitals. I am having a hut built 
at my own expense and the large barracks done up, also at my 
expense and by my directions. It was in too disgraceful a state to 
remain as it was. The hospitals in the villages around which I 
visit of an afternoon are very bad mostly the people are so 
tenderly kind to the wounded, but do not understand how to take 
care of them and are dirty beyond description. I often feel quite 
sick with disgust, and yet looking after it is the only way to 
improve an establishment of this kind. . . . 

Sept. jtL 

During these last days I have so often felt reminded of passages 
in Shakespeare in Henry V. and Richard EL There are passages 
which apply wonderfully to the present extraordinary state of 
things. 

I am sorry for poor General Failly, whom I knew, and who 
was one of the better sort of French Generals. As for Bazaine and 
Palikao, I think them wretches, but Bazaine is a capital soldier. 
Metz and Strassburg are too dreadful to think of. The Germans 

9* 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 grieve at having to bombard Strassburg, but it cannot be avoided. 
Metz cannot hold out very long and the conditions within its walls 
must be too awful. Our wounded who have come from there 
say they have been very kindly treated. Poor Lothar Hohenthal, 
Valerie's youngest brother is also killed ! Poor young man, he was 
hardly twenty, very handsome and full of promise. I have known 
him ever since he was a little boy. You are very kind to express 
your sympathy for all the poor bereaved families of my acquaint- 
ance. Whenever I have an opportunity I will say so. All this 
misery draws hearts closer together and brings together those who 
in happy and quiet days would have passed one another by without 
taking any notice. The feeling of belonging to one great nation 
for the first time obliterates all feeling of north, south, high and 
low all particularism this I must say is very delicious to experi- 
ence simplifies all things and gives a new impetus to all exertions 
poor Germany, she has dearly bought her unity and independence 
with the blood of her sons. It is a great satisfaction to me to see 
how Prussian Wesen^ discipline, habits, etc., is now appreciated 
and seen in its true light, its superiority acknowledged with pleasure 
and pride, instead of jealousy, fear, scorn, and hatred. We owe 
to Frederick the Great and his father, to Scharnhorst, Stein and 
Hardenberg, what we are, and we say it with gratitude and not 
vainglory or conceit. We are worthy of England's sympathy and 
approbation and feel sure that it will not long be withheld from us. 

Fritz writes that he has seen many letters which have been 
seized from one French officer to another, giving the most awful 
description of the French Army as regards honesty and morality. 
The stealing and plundering that goes on is incredible, not only 
among the Turkos* The Empress did well and rightly in giving 
up the Crown Jewels of her own accord before there was any 
necessity. Queen Isabella behaved very differently. 

What will Bertie and Alix say to all these marvellous events! 
When I think of the Emperor and Empress in the zenith of their 
glory in '55 and at the time of the Exhibition when all the 
Sovereigns of Europe paid them their Court, and they were so 
amiable and courteous to all. It seems a curious contrast! Gay 
and charming Paris! Our poverty, our dull towns, our plodding, 
hardworking, serious life has made us strong and determined is 
wholesome for us. I should grieve were we to imitate Paris and 
be so taken up with pleasure that no time was left for self-examina- 

92 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

tion and serious thought. Ancient history teaches the same lesson 1870 
as modern history a hard and stern one for those who have to 
learn it by sad experience. The poor Emperor has leisure now to 
study it. 

This letter reflects to a singular degree the German 
opinion of the time the lack of sympathy with Napoleon, 
the probability of a rapid end to the war and, as a condi- 
tion of peace, the restitution to Germany of the provinces 
of Alsace and Lorraine. Above all, there was the desire 
that German unity should be proclaimed in no uncertain 
manner, an opinion which the Crown Prince was urg- 
ing vigorously in the King's Council. Bismarck's own 
opinion of the Crown Prince's activity at this period may 
be gauged from the following extracts : 

The initiative for any change in the conduct of the war did not 
as a rule emanate from the King, but from the staff of the army or 
from that of the Crown Prince, who was the general in command. 
That this circle was open to English views if presented in a friendly 
manner was only natural ; the Crown Princess, Moltke's late wife, 
the wife of Count Blumenthal, chief of the staff, and afterwards 
Field-Marshal, and the wife of von Gottberg, the staff officer next 
in influence, were all Englishwomen. 1 

With regard to Alsace and Lorraine the Crown Prince's 
opinion was most definite. 

The annexation of Alsace [he wrote in his Diary on Sept- 
ember 12-14] an ^ perhaps of a part of Lorraine, is surely well 
earned by the sacrifices Germany has made. I would have these 
provinces administered separately, simply as Imperial territories, in 
the name of the Empire, by that time we hope restored, and eventu- 
ally in that of the Bund, without giving them a dynasty and placing 
them under any reigning house. . . . The immediate concern is to 
detach Alsace from the great corporate body of France, yet at the 
same time to make the country feel that it is becoming a member 
of another equally great state, and is not condemned to have to 

1 Butler's Bismarck, p. 124. 

93 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 make one of the little petty states of Germany. Count Bismarck 
seems to me to entertain so far no specially wild-cat plans ; on the 
contrary, he expressed himself, while we were still at Rheims, in 
answer to my leading questions, rather cautiously than otherwise. 

Meanwhile, in spite of all opposition, the Crown 
Princess had been successful in organising better hospital 
conditions at Homburg, and it was from here that she 
wrote to Queen Victoria on September 17 : 

. . . The army is marching onward towards Paris. I hope and 
trust there will be nothing very awful. I do not think they appre- 
hend very formidable resistance, but I live in dread of something 
happening as at Laon. . . . 

Our hospital arrangements are getting on now nicely, and in 
another fortnight I trust the place will look very different and the 
poor creatures be far more comfortable. To overcome the pre- 
judice of doctors and patients against fresh air is really almost 
impossible. We have not one nurse or dresser here yet, only people 
from the town, who are dirty, ignorant and useless in the extreme, 
but we have sent for some better help which we shall have soon. 
Dr. Schroeder and Dr. Doetz are excellent but the other doctors 
are really only mischievous, stupid, old things many a poor 
wretch might have been saved if they had understood their work. 
Prof. Schillbach from Jena we got over and he has performed 
many operations, also General Arzt Koch, from Cassel, who tried 
to set things right a little, as the organisation was really too 
lamentable. 

The Crown Prince's view of his wife's activities is 
recorded in his Diary for September 10 and n. 

Captain von Dresky [he noted] arrived with letters from my 
wife at Homburg and other news from home. It is with unfeigned 
pleasure that I learn from various sources that my wife's presence 
in the hospitals at Homburg, Frankfort and in the Rhine province 
is properly appreciated, and also that officials and physicians declare 
that they are astonished at the wide range of her knowledge. Cer- 
tainly I would have looked for nothing else, yet it is with unspeak- 
able satisfaction that I hear the facts acknowledged, for it is high 
time my wife should win the grateful recognition she has long 

94 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

deserved. At this moment she is building a hospital at Homburg at 1870 
her own expense, in order to see her own special principles brought 
into operation. 

After the crowning French disaster at Sedan the 
German armies had little resistance to contend with in 
the open field and on September 19 they completely sur- 
rounded Paris, which prepared for a stubborn defence. 
Meanwhile, the Empress Eugenie had arrived in England 
as a refugee. The news of her arrival awoke in the Crown 
Princess vivid memories of her own visit to France in 
1855. 

All you say [she wrote from Homburg on September 24, 1870] 
in your letter is so true. Dear Papa was so right about the Emperor 
Napoleon. Now he is in sorrow I do not like to abuse him, he has 
reaped what he has sown, he was the corrupter of all Europe all 
Europe paid him their court, were dazzled by the splendour of his 
capital, and his own magnificence, his politics were bad, dishonest 
and dangerous, and yet he was not a wicked man like the old King 
of Hanover, or the late King of Naples. He did many a kind and 
generous action, and the Empress even more than he did, so that 
one is disgusted at the violence and spite of the Parisians who 
seem hardly to be able to find indignities enough to heap on the 
heads of this luckless pair. The Imperial regime has enough to 
answer for, besides all the blood that has now been spilt, and this 
must be so miserable a feeling for the Emperor and Empress that 
I pity them. Besides they seem to be deprived of means (to their 
honour be it said). 

The letter you sent me about the escape of the poor Empress 
was very interesting. What a shame that no French gentleman 
accompanied her! Is it not a sign of how the French have degener- 
ated that now in the hour of danger and tribulation they go on 
fabricating lies, which they believe in a French victory at Toul, 
another before the walls of Paris, etc.? Not until Paris is taken 
will they see how matters stand and come to reasonable terms, 
and I do not see how the King can think of peace before. 

A most unpleasant piece of intelligence has reached me. Fritz's 
letters to me of the ist and 2nd (which I always wondered at not 

95 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 receiving) have fallen into the hands of the French, so that I may 
have the pleasure of seeing them in some distorted form in the 
French newspapers. He is much annoyed, as he wrote down the 
conversation of the King and the Emperor, and different other 
most interesting details. Another thing also puts me out immensely, 
that the King after having approved my coming here, now is 
angry and wishes me to go back to Berlin, which I cannot do, 
as all the hospital arrangements depend on my being here 
and are just beginning to do nicely. Is it not annoying and 
provoking? I never make a plan that is not crossed by the King 
or Queen, and they invariably disapprove of what I do it is very 
disheartening. 

On the previous day, September 23, the French army 
at Toul had surrendered, and on the 2yth Strassburg 
followed suit. The Crown Princess, meanwhile, had been 
as active as ever to alleviate the suffering of the wounded 
and to improve the hospital service, and on September 
30 she wrote to Queen Victoria : 

... I returned yesterday evening from a most fatiguing 
tourne*e to Wiesbaden, Bieberich, Bingen, Bingerbriick, Rudesheim 
and Mayence. At all these places I went over the hospitals, 
which is as trying to one's nerves as possible, besides seeing 
the authorities, etc. The weather was beautiful, the lovely Rhine 
looked its best, and had not one such a load of anxiety and 
worry, and so much business, I should have really enjoyed the tour 
through this enchanting country. Some hospital arrangements 
were good, but very few, others tolerable and the rest wretched, 
dirty and ill managed. Everywhere the population is doing to the 
utmost of its power and abilities and means to tend the sick and 
wounded and give them every comfort, but it is often very ill 
done, and one has many a painful impression. I saw many wounded 
French officers at Mayence. I went to see the French prisoners, 
5,000 of them in a Camp together, a curious sight. They express 
themselves very gratefully and seem to like being well cared for 
and not having any more fighting to do. 

I have letters from Fritz up to the 23rd. He is well and at 
Versailles. Paris will keep them some time yet, I fear. 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

Four days later (October 5) the Crown Prince noted 1870 
in his Diary : 

With regard to the hospital establishments on the Rhine and at 
Frankfort-on-the-Main, to which my wife devotes especial atten- 
tion, I hear these spoken of with grateful appreciation. It gives me 
infinite pleasure to hear in all quarters repeated expressions of the 
high respect my wife's quiet but strong and efficient activity evokes. 
In Homburg she has created a perfect model hospital, which it is to 
be hoped will soon find imitations. I communicated to His Majesty 
much of what I had learned, but without hearing one word of com- 
mendation in reply. 

His last sentence gives a little idea of the opposition 
even in the highest quarters to the philanthropic services 
of the Crown Princess. 

On October 27, the fortress of Metz and Marshal 
Bazaine's whole army of over 170,000 men capitulated, 
after a seventy days' siege. This was the fourth French 
army to be captured in two months, and a German force 
of 200,000 was thus set free to cope effectively with 
the new French armies which were being raised by 
the energy of Gambetta to relieve Paris. The German 
victories brought deserved honours to many in the higher 
commands, and the Crown Prince was rewarded for his 
services by being created a Field-Marshal, an honour 
which was also conferred upon Prince Frederick Charles. 
Four days later (October 31) the Crown Princess wrote : 

I have not written since the great news of the capitulation of 
Metz. If one could only hope that Paris would surrender before 
the awful alternative of a bombardment or famine is forced upon 
usl There is no use in holding out any longer it will not give 
France back her military glory that has faded away it will only 
bring endless and horrible misery on many thousands of innocent 
beings. I believe it is principally owing to General Trochu that 
they will not give in, and he is sacrificing the inhabitants to his 
own personal vanity. The Empress is at Wilhelmshohe, but returns 
H 97 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 to England today or tomorrow, I hear. Fritz has received the 
rank of Field-Marshal, and Fritz Carl also it is the first time that 
a Prince of this House has ever received this title! I think it is well 
deserved, I must say. The Queen is gone to Frankfort today to 
visit the Grand Duke of Hesse and all the family, also the Duchess 
of Hamilton. ... I hear nearly every day from Fritz he is well 
but much distressed at the thought of the war being prolonged 
and of the siege of Paris. 

Waldy has quite recovered from his illness and is looking very 
well again, though thin. The others are all well. How is dear 
Leopold ? I have heard nothing about him for so long ? 

The three captive Marshals are going to be sent to Cassel 
so the Emperor at least will have company. It does seem so extra- 
ordinary to think of our having taken the French Army wholesale! 

The Times is so Interesting that we are always impatient for it 
to arrive! The irritation against England is still very great and 
people are very ungracious to all English. I think it so unjust and 
it makes me very unhappy. I cannot help getting violent on the 
subject and, when I hear disparaging remarks made, giving them 
back with a vehemence not altogether wise. It makes me feel 
spiteful and savage and upsets me altogether. I am obliged to 
comfort myself with the reflection that it is but legitimate for the 
Germans to be in a state of excitement unlike themselves, which 
makes them a little unfair, considering how their existence was at 
stake when the war was so wrongly forced upon them. Of course 
all this is more unpleasant for me than for anyone. 

German irritation with England's neutrality indeed 
continued to grow, and a week later, on November 7, 
the Crown Princess again voiced her distress at the 
Anglo-German tension. 

. . . What you say about the feeling between Germany and 
England [she wrote to her mother] is but too true! It makes my 
heart sick! There is nothing for it but patience. I know it will not 
last. In Germany as soon as people's passions and nerves setde 
and calm down a bit and they have time, which at present they 
have not, to examine what their imaginary grievance against 
England is> they will see how puerile are the reasons which have 
made them so angry and how small are the facts which, so greatly 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

exaggerated, exasperated them so much. I am sure they will be 1870 
heartily ashamed of their injustice, and grateful for England's kind 
and cordial sympathy her grand and magnificent charity and 
her masterly descriptions of our deeds in her incomparable press, 
the first press of the world. Much can be done even now, I am 
sure, to clear up misunderstandings and explain away difficulties. 
It will never do to blunder away at one another till we have got 
either into a serious quarrel, or a settled dislike for which the whole 
world will suffer. Those, as you so justly and truly say, who are 

devoted as I am heart and soul to both beloved countries to the 

cause of liberty and culture of which they are the two main 
supports have many a bitter moment to go through at present. 
But the case is not hopeless. If England will be forbearing with 
her excited sister who has no time to think while she is fighting, 
I know she will see reason and good feeling return. The cause of 
anger is really this : when the war broke out Germany, who had 
to rush into armour unprepared, of course thought herself in the 
greatest danger, and turned to England, her only friend, for help. 
England had other considerations preferred being a spectator to 
an actor, probably did not think the danger so imminent for 
Germany as the latter did herself in short determined to remain 
neutral. A cry of disappointment and indignation burst forth from 
Germany and people said " If we are annihilated England will 
be the cause. She knows and acknowledges that we have been 
unfairly and unjustly attacked, and yet she will quietly see us go to 
the bottom without stirring a little finger to help us! If she had 
but spoken out loud to our neighbour who has so suddenly turned 
our enemy if she had but lifted up her voice and threatened 
to strike him that disturbed the peace of Europe, France would 
never have dared to make war and all these lives would have been 
saved. England hat die Fettsucht ist zu faul urn sich zu riihren 
und lasst uns lieber zu Grunde gehen als Frankreich ein ernstes 
Wort zu sagen." l This is the grievance, and it must take time 
before the feeling of anger will wear out, and the kindly offices 
England has unceasingly offered since be acknowledged and 
appreciated. 

I think in the main grievance Germany is right and her feeling 

1 England is growing fat is too lazy to stir herself and prefers 
to let us be ruined rather than say a stern word to France. 

99 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 legitimate, for in my mind I cannot help thinking England could 
have and should have prevented the war by a rebuke and a 
threat to the party who was the aggressor. But where Germany 
is altogether wrong is in supposing England hung back from a 
love of the French and jealousy of ourselves that Lord Granville 
was French, and the laws of neutrality interpreted to our detriment 
and France's advantage; and many minor facts brought up against 
England were exaggerated and distorted so as to create spite 
and suspicion and all manner of unkindly feelings now vented 
on inoffensive and kindly intentioned Englishmen wherever they 
appear. The misfortune is that our official representatives are 
neither of them quite fitted for, nor up to, their position, viz. 
Bernstorff and Lord Augustus (Loftus). Each though well inten- 
tioned has bungled and made bvue$ with mischievous conse- 
quences, /fa great German Empire does come out of the present 
war, then neither of these persons ought to remain. A charge of 
such immense importance ought to be confided to the very best 
heads and hands both countries can produce, so that both be 
worthily represented. I am sure nothing would set matters straight 
sooner. Pray excuse my openness. 

I find I have not yet thanked you for the pretty and interesting 
letter from Mr. Haig! What a contrast in the lives your children 
have been leading during the last three months! The anxiety, ex- 
citement and business Alice and I have been in and Affie over 
the sea in utter ignorance of what is going on in the old world I 
I hope and trust we shall all meet next year! 

In the meantime, two great questions were perturbing 
the King of Prussia and his military advisers, among 
whom were pre-eminent the Crown Prince, Prince 
Frederick Charles, and Bismarck. The most immediate 
question was the problem of how the war might be most 
quickly finished; the second, and perhaps a not less 
important question, was the future of Germany. With 
regard to the first, although the regular French armies 
had been decisively beaten, Paris, the heart of France, 
still successfully resisted the siege which had already been 
in operation a month. Elsewhere in France new levies 
100 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

were being raised under the inspiration of Gambetta, and 1870 
many were the Frencfahopes that soon these armies might 
combine to raise the siege of Paris. Hence, all the efforts 
of the German high command were now directed to the 
speedy reduction of Paris and to the smashing of the 
new armies as and when they were ready. From the 
first, however, there appeared to be some dissension 
among the German staff as to the means by which Paris 
should be subdued. Bismarck and many of the older 
soldiers, such as Roon, favoured a bombardment. Others, 
thinking possibly of the artistic glories of Paris and the 
lives of the innocent caged within its gates, opposed a 
bombardment as inhuman, and preferred the weapons of 
starvation and disease. The Crown Prince's attitude is 
expressed in his Diary, where on October 22 he notes : 

Today the firstworkswere begun for building the siege batteries. 
Though I have ordered the preparations for a siege to be carried 
out with the greatest energy and all possible judgment, I am still in 
hopes that Paris will be forced simply and solely by hunger to open 
her gates to us, and that many lives will thus be spared to us. 1 

Four days later he noted (October 26) : 

All persons in authority, I at the head of them, are at one in 
this, that we must use every endeavour to force Paris to surrender 
by hunger alone ; General von Moltke is in full agreement with 
me as to this. 2 

Efforts were now made to secure an armistice, but the 
mission of M. Thiers to the German headquarters proved 
a complete failure. 

So now [as the Crown Prince recorded on November 6] no 
choice is left to us but to take Paris; all the same I still hold 
by my policy of starving the city out, for this procedure, cruel 

1 The War Diary of the Emperor Frederick, p. 165. 
2 IML p. 169. 

IOI 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 though it seems, will spare more lives than a regular siege and 
storming of the city would cost us. . . ." 1 

Bismarck, however, was " extremely desirous of seeing 
the bombardment begin immediately, in order to hasten 
the capitulation ", 2 and in this view he was supported by 
public opinion in Berlin. 

The Crown Princess naturally echoed her husband's 
views, and wrote to her mother on November 26, 1870 : 

Many most affectionate thanks for your dear letter of the 2ist, 
and for the kind and affectionate words you write, which are very 
precious to me! Fritz writes from Versailles that he does see a 
chance of the Russian question being settled amicably and satis- 
factorily. 3 What a blessing it would be. Fritz gets abused here 
for not hastening the bombardment, but he does all he can to put 
it off, hoping it will become unnecessary. Moltke and Blumenthal 
are of his opinion, also General v. Falkenstein whom I saw 
yesterday, but the public want the excitement of hearing of a 
bombardment. 

In Berlin the cry for the bombardment now grew 
fiercer, and on all sides the Crown Prince and Princess 
were attacked and abused as interfering with the just 
conduct of the war. 

Apparently [recorded the Crown Prince on November 28] 4 
it is becoming a perfect mania in Berlin, this eagerness for the 
bombardment of Paris, and I even hear that Countess Bismarck- 
Schonhausen points me out to all and sundry as more particularly 
the guilty cause of its postponement. And she is quite right, for 
above all things I do not wish fire to be opened till in the opinion 

1 The War Diary of the Emperor Frederick^ p. 181. 

2 Hid. pp. 200-201. 

3 On October 31 Russia repudiated the clauses of the Treaty 
of 1856 which ensured the neutralisation of the Black Sea. The 
Conference of London which followed in January 1871 ratified 
the abrogation. 

* Ibid. pp. 202-203. 
IO2 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

of professional gunners and experts the necessary ammunition each 1870 
single siege gun requires for an effective uninterrupted bombard- 
ment is there on the spot. If that were all, we could have begun 
firing long ago, but we should very soon have had to stop and have 
gained nothing by it but a ludicrous failure. ... To my great 
satisfaction I hear from home that General of Infantry von Falken- 
stein shares my views on this question. 

For the time being the Crown Prince won his point, 
and it was not until another month had passed that Paris 
was subjected to the torture of bombardment. 

Meanwhile, a second great question had been troubling 
the leaders of Germany the question of the future con- 
stitution of their state. All the eminent leaders, including 
Bismarck and the Crown Prince, were agreed that this 
was the moment in which to forge the new Germany ; 
one man alone dissented he who was to become the 
first Emperor of the new state, the veteran King William. 
He, as King of Prussia, was content with the status quo. 
German unity, he agreed, demanded something more, but 
he could think of no title more dignified than that of 
King, while the Crown Prince, Bismarck and the others 
favoured the creation of an Empire with William, of 
course, as its Emperor. On October 13 the Crown Prince 
recorded in his Diary : 

The imperial question is now given serious prominence by 
Count Bismarck ; in fact he told me himself that in 1866 it was a 
mistake on his part to have treated the idea with indifference ; at 
the same time he had never dreamt the desire for the Imperial 
Crown would be so strong as it is now among the German people. 
. . . Count Bismarck raises the difficulty that supposing the 
Imperial dignity which I should like to see made hereditary 
transferred to our House, the style of our Court would likewise 
be changed and the development of greater splendour of circum- 
stance follow as a necessary consequence. However, it greatly 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 relieved his mind when I explained to him how in my opinion that 
was the very time when the old Brandenburg simplicity must be 
more thoroughly observed than is the case at the Royal Court of 
today. 1 

Eleven days later he notes : 2 

I cannot help myself at this crisis from thinking a great deal of 
the plans my late father-in-law (the Prince Consort) as also the 
late King (Leopold I.) of the Belgians, in conjunction with old 
Baron von Stockmar, entertained for a united Germany under a 
monarchical head. God so willed that those men should conceive 
the notion of a free German Imperial State, that in the true sense 
of the word should march at the forefront of civilisation and be in 
a position to develop and bring to bear all noble ideals of the 
modern world, so that through German influence the rest of the 
world should be humanised, manners ennobled and people diverted 
from those frivolous French tendencies. . . . Once we Germans 
were recognised as honest champions of such convictions an 
alliance might well be attained with England, Belgium, Holland, 
Denmark and Switzerland against Russia and France, and thereby 
peace be assured for many a day. Then in course of time the way 
would be paved for an understanding with France and thus bring 
about the utilisation of rich resources in the domain of Science, Art 
and Commerce, to the reciprocal advantage of both nations. 

Great was the joy of the Crown Prince when he learnt 
on December 2 that the youthful King Ludwig of Bavaria 
at Bismarck's suggestion had written to King William 
begging him to assume the Imperial title. The next day 
the Crown Prince noted in his Diary : 

Today, one I have for so many years held in honour and affec- 
tion as my sister's birthday, has acquired a special importance for 
our House and country from the fact that the King of Bavaria, in 
an official communication in his own hand to our King, has begged 
him to assume the Imperial dignity. . . . The gist was something 
to this effect, that now the German Confederation had been restored, 

1 The War Diary of the Emperor Frederick, pp. 155-156. 

2 Ibid. p. 168. 
104 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

it seemed to King Ludwig to be only right that it in turn should 1870 
further develop into the old-time Empire with the Emperor at its 
head, and that, if His Majesty showed himself disposed to adopt the 
idea, he was ready to invite the German Princes and Free Cities, 
whom he had informed of this step, to offer him the Imperial Crown. 
The contents of this letter put His Majesty quite beside himself 
with displeasure and took him altogether aback ; so he seems to 
have no inkling that the draft of it went from here to Munich. The 
King held that the matter came just at the most inopportune time 
possible, as he looked upon our prospects at the moment as very 
black and our position highly perilous. Count Bismarck replied 
that the election of the Emperor had nothing to do with the fight- 
ing now going on, but was rather a victory in itself and a con- 
sequence of the victories won up to the present, and that, even if 
we were driven back to the Meuse, the question was distinct from 
military incidents and a matter of simple right. But the King was 
not going to change his mind today and saw in " Emperor and 
Empire " simply a cross for himself to bear and for the Prussian 
Kingdom generally! After leaving the King's room, Count Bis- 
marck and I wrung each other's hand, without saying much for 
we felt that the decision was made and that from today " Emperor 
and Empire " were restored beyond possibility of recall. 

Only for the evening of his days will my father probably enjoy 
its honours ; but on me and mine devolves the task of setting our 
hands in true German fashion to the completion of the mighty 
edifice, and that on principles consonant with these modern times 
and free from prejudice and prepossessions. 1 

On December 10 the Reichstag included the words 
"Emperor" and "Empire" in the text of the new 
German Constitution. The German Empire was in being. 
How much of the credit for this should be attributed to 
the Crown Prince and how much to Bismarck is a point 
that will no doubt be eventually decided by history, but 
there is no doubt that it was the Crown Prince who per- 
suaded Bismarck to take the decisive step. Prince Billow, 
in a book on German politics published in 1913, confesses 

1 The War Diary of the Emperor Frederick, p. 210. 

105 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 that the idea of a united Germany emanated originally 
from the Liberal party, but adds that it required the Con- 
servative party, or rather Bismarck, to carry it out. It 
was not, however, from the Liberal party alone that 
the Crown Prince derived his ideas, because the Prince 
Consort had often explained to him his conception of a 
German Empire. On December 14 the Crown Prince 
noted in his Diary : 

My thoughts are busied in a very special way today with my 
beloved, never-to-be-forgotten father-in-law, who this day nine 
years ago was taken from us. Had he lived, much would have gone 
differently and turned out differently in the development of the 
world's history , above all it would have been a subject of con- 
gratulation in his case if only he could have witnessed the restora- 
tion of the Empire, the complicated questions involved in which so 
often formed the subject of his talks with me. In particular, I recall 
perfectly a conversation we had during a stroll in the gardens of 
Buckingham Palace, in which he more especially stressed the point 
that we Prussians would have to give up this idea of playing a 
decisive role without assistance from Germany. His notion was 
not that of gaining by force of arms the ends the attainment of 
which was hindered by the stupidity of the Princes and the narrow- 
mindedness of the nation; but indeed no one in the year 1856, 
when peace at any price was in fashion, could have imagined that 
a time would ever come for such a magnificent and puissant re- 
vival of the manly spirit of Germany as we witness at the present 
moment. What a great mind like that of the enlightened Prince 
Consort wished and worked for can only gradually come to matur- 
ity ; his blessing will not fail to be upon the building up of the new 
Empire. 1 

In the meantime opinion at the German Headquarters 
had hardened steadily in favour of the bombardment of 
Paris, whilst in Berlin the demand for this measure 
became a shrill hysterical clamour. The Crown Prince, 
however, still maintained the opinion that " a bombard- 

1 The War Diary of the Emperor Frederick, p. 222. 
106 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

ment would be no good, strong as is the tide of opinion 1870 
at home in the opposite direction ", and he was warmly 
supported in his objection by General von Blumenthal 
and Count Moltke. That same day, December 14, he 
noted in his Diary : 

In Berlin it is now the order of the day to vilify my wife as 
being mainly responsible for the postponement of the bombard- 
ment of Paris and to accuse her of acting under the direction of 
the Queen of England ; all this exasperates me beyond measure. 
Countess Bismarck-Schonhausen and the Countess AmelieDonhoff, 
a lady of the court of the Dowager Queen Elizabeth, 1 have repeated 
the scandal quite openly. But who in Berlin can judge what is best 
to do before Paris ? Did we by any chance consult these wiseacres 
about Weissenberg, "Worth and Sedan ? And yet our exploits at 
that time have been deemed quite exemplary. But now in this case, 
where the bombardment calls for the most thorough preparations, 
especially so because of grave sins of omission on the part of the 
War Ministry, and in which we are faced with a siege on an utterly 
unprecedented scale, for which the necessary material has not been 
got ready, we should, of course, without more ado just loose off 
our guns, simply because the laity are of the opinion that Paris 
must then quite obviously capitulate 1 Yet, if only one of these 
clever people would be so good as just take the trouble to get a 
pair of compasses and measure how far our batteries, armed with 
the heaviest cannon, can actually reach, and if folks at Berlin would 
only realise that though shells may fall in the forts, the houses of 
the city itself are far out of range, so that the inhabitants would 
not be in the slightest degree incommoded by the firing, then 
perhaps they would understand that we are not the dolts they 
take us for at home. If we did proceed to a regular siege, the storm- 
ing of the fortifications that must inevitably accompany any such 
operation, would cost us a frightful toll of men. I should just like 
to see the outcry that would then be raised at home! No, we shall 
not allow ourselves to be moved one hair's-breadth from our con- 
viction just to please these gentlemen sitting at home in comfort- 
fortable, cosy rooms. I should like these experts to come along 

1 Widow of King Frederick William IV. 

107 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 here, take matters in their own hands, and show whether they 
understand the job better than we dol l 

Here surely was the reductio adabsurdum of the notion 
that the Crown Princess dominated her husband. In the 
first place, a soldier like the Crown Prince was certainly 
not likely to consult his wife on questions relating to the 
prosecution of the war when it was as much as he could 
do to keep her informed of what had happened the week 
before. Had the Crown Prince been the weak man he is 
often depicted as, he would have been far more easily in- 
fluenced and dominated by the other generals who were 
constantly with him, but from all accounts he took a line 
of his own and constantly advocated a course of action 
that was by no means popular with the army. The theory 
that he was overridden by his wife therefore rests on no 
foundation whatever. Whenever any Queen or Princess 
interests herself in politics and repeats the views of her 
husband, it is invariably said that the wife dominates, and 
in this case there is small doubt that the Crown Princess 
not only took a most intelligent interest in politics, but 
also probably repeated, perhaps a little tactlessly, the views 
she had heard her husband express or that she read in his 
Diary, which he continued to send her. Later, when he 
became a sick man and relied on her in a thousand and 
one ways, there was, of course, every excuse for the 
people in Germany to rush to the conclusion that she 
was the one that counted, but at that time of the war 
of 1870-71 this slander can only have been invented 
by people who were looking for a pretext to depreciate 
her. 

It is curious to note that while in England Queen 
Victoria was accused of sympathising with the Germans, 

1 The War Diary of the Emperor Frederick^ pp. 222-223. 
108 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

the Crown Princess was said to be scheming with her 1870 
mother to prevent Paris from being bombarded, and it 
was Bismarck himself who in later years said to his 
creature Busch : " Perhaps I may be allowed to mention 
the influence brought to bear by the English ladies against 
the bombardment of Paris. You remember, ' Schurze 
und Schtirzen 5 (aprons and petticoats), that is to say, 
freemasons and women." * 

Meanwhile, the fighting still continued, and on Decem- 
ber 4, after a series of sanguinary engagements, Orleans 
surrendered to Prince Frederick Charles. Two days later 
the Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

Many affectionate thanks for your dear letter received yesterday. 
Meanwhile we are trembling with anxiety and excitement, as right- 
ing has been going on every day. Orleans having been retaken is 
of great importance and perhaps may bring this cruel bloodshed to 
an end sooner. Everyone is firmly convinced that the French will 
wish to begin another war again as soon as they possibly can to 
wipe out the stain of 1870 on their military glory. For this reason 
it is argued we must take a part of Lorraine and Alsace, so that 
when they do begin again our frontier may be a better protection 
to us, since we are never safe from being overrun by the French 
whenever their Government thinks it necessary to begin a fresh 
quarrel with us. I own I share this opinion and I find it universal 
both among soldiers, statesmen and the public at large. 

The funds for the sick and wounded are very low things and 
money are sadly wanted I 

How is the Wolsey Chapel getting on? I am so glad to hear 
the Albert Hall pleases you and that the monument looks fine. 
How I long to see all these things again, but make plans one cannot I 
And as our visit may be unwelcome and a gene, of course the 
chances of my being once more at home get rarer year by year. 
It makes me very sad. . . . 

The title of Emperor of Germany has been proposed to the 

1 Busch's Bismarck, p, 185. 

109 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1870 King by the King of Bavaria. I think he will accept it, though I 
am not sure. How strange it seems ! 

Five days later (December n) she wrote : 

. . . The fighting that goes on daily distracts us. The French 
are determined to go on and we shall have to go on likewise. 
About Alsace and Lorraine there is but one voice all over Germany, 
that, if we do not keep them (or part of them), we shall be doing 
a wrong thing, as we shall be exposing ourselves to the same 
calamity as threatened us in July being attacked and overrun by 
the French, whenever it suits them, as our frontiers are too weak 
to keep them out. Our only chance for a long era of peace, which 
Germany is burning and thirsting for, is by so subduing the 
French, that they will not wish to be at us again (at present they 
are not subdued and do not own themselves to be beaten), and 
making our frontier so formidable, that we are protected from the 
dangers of an attack. . . . 

The Crown Princess's efforts at alleviating the con- 
dition of the wounded now began to secure some measure 
of approval, and the Crown Prince in his Diary (Decem- 
ber 21) noted that 

It was a more cheerful piece of news for me to learn that my 
wife's doings as an expert in matters of nursing and tending the sick 
are rightly appreciated. Thus a detailed report from the Consult- 
ing Surgeon to the Hospitals of the Xlth Army Corps, Professor 
Schillbach of Jena, has appeared, which describes the results 
achieved in the Homburg Hospital, in which my wife never ceased 
to take an active interest, as the best of all those connected with the 
Corps. 

As if to emphasise Germany's intention to crush 
France, the order for the bombardment of Paris was given 
on December 30, Bismarck at length having prevailed 
over the humanitarian protests of the Crown Prince who, 
therefore, " fixed the 4th January as the day for the open- 
ing of this wretched bombardment. . . . Bismarck ", he 
added, " has made us great and powerful, but he has 
no 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

robbed us of our friends, the sympathies of the world 1870 
and our conscience." l The effect, as the Crown Prince 
said, of this drastic step on the part of Germany was to 
alienate what little sympathy there now was in England 
for the triumphant German cause, and the tension be- 
tween the two countries became evident in many little 
incidents which the Crown Princess did her best to 
smooth over. As she wrote to Queen Victoria on 
December 30 : 

It is so kind of you to break lances for the Germans in England ; 
this mutual distrust is too dreadful. It must be the aim of our 
statesmen to dispel these feelings, so unjust, unnecessary, and 
injurious to all that is useful. Here, the feeling is getting much 
better. . . . 

That the Prussian officers should be rude to the English ones is 
too bad ; but I fear our dear countrymen are a little awkward and 
ignorant of the forms which Germans are accustomed to. I know 
they quite neglect to have themselves named, and this the Prussians 
misunderstand and take for intentional rudeness, which they then 
fancy it is their duty to return ; this is too stupid, but I know it 
is the case. It all comes from an imperfect knowledge of one 
another's national habits, for I have found those Englishmen and 
Germans who have lived much in both countries get on particularly 
well together, and are the best of friends. Prussians are really very 
civil, but they expect this Vorstelhn^ introducing and presenting ; 
and if it is forgotten they are offended. I do not think half the 
English that go abroad have an idea of this being necessary ; on 
the other hand the Germans do not know that it is not the custom 
in England and this always creates little disagreeables, and when 
there is so much excitable matter in the air, and feelings are so 
irritated, every trifle is taken at more than it is worth. Hence these 
eternal squabbles and misunderstandings which make me utterly 
wretched. 

A few days later General Kirchbach, with the approval 
of the Emperor of Germany, sent to the Crown Princess 

1 The War Diary of the Emperor Frederick, p. 238. 

Ill 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1871 a screen that had been taken from the boudoir of the 
Empress Eugenie at St. Cloud. The Crown Princess was 
anxious that it should be restored to its rightful owner, 
who was now a refugee in England, and promptly sent 
it to Queen Victoria. Her accompanying letter (January 
4, 1871) ran : 

I have sent off a large parcel to you, containing a screen. This 
screen stood in the Empress's boudoir at St. Cloud. When the 
French shells set fire to the house, the Prussian soldiers, as you 
know, tried to extinguish the fire and save the valuable things. A 
Prussian soldier made his way through smoke and flames at great 
risk of his own life, and carried off this screen, which he delivered 
up to General Kirchbach (a few minutes later it would have been 
burnt). General Kirchbach asked the King's leave to send me this 
screen, and obtained it. Although St. Cloud is not the private 
property of the Emperor and Empress, and the mobilier belongs to 
the State consequently is no longer theirs, yet I consider this, 
and everything else saved, not a trophy of war, and do not see 
what right I have to keep it. Moreover, I would not wish to have 
anything in my possession which had belonged to the Empress, 
who has always been so kind to me, and on different occasions 
made me such handsome presents. I have said nothing to anyone 
at Versailles, neither to the King nor Fritz, as I can do what I 
like with a tiling that has been sent to me, but I would ask you, 
dearest Mama, to restore this screen to the poor Empress when 
you think fit ; you can tell her its history and how I came by it. 
Of course I cannot offer it as a present^ whilst we are at war that 
would not do ; besides, I consider it simply restoring a piece of 
property to its rightful owner, which please must be YOUR doing. 
I trust in this way no one can blame me, whilst I am doing what I 
simply consider my duty. 

I do not approve of war trophies, at least of ladies possessing 
them ; for soldiers they are lawful, of course, and every army in 
the world considers them so. Perhaps you will kindly tell me 
when the parcel arrives, and when it has through your kindness 
reached its destination. . . . 

The arrival of -the screen placed Queen Victoria in a 

112 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

predicament. To restore the screen to the Empress might 1871 
give the French proof that the Germans had been guilty 
of plunder, and her opinion was supported by Earl 
Granville, who wrote to her on January 7 : 

In this country war trophies mean flags and guns, etc., etc. ; the 
presents taken from palaces and country houses, which are said to 
have been sent in great quantities from France to Germany, would 
be called here acts of plunder, or looting. There may be a slight 
distinction in an article taken from a palace belonging to the State, 
which had been destroyed by the fire of the French ; but in English 
ideas it would have been better if the Crown Prince had abstained 
from anything that looked like a sanction to the habit of the German 
Army. It would be difficult for your Majesty to receive as a present 
something which is known to have been taken from the palace of 
a State with which your Majesty is in friendly alliance ; and there 
is something awkward in restoring, to the Empress here, that which 
belongs to the State in France. The offer might be refused, and the 
French entourage might make much of this proof of plunder. 

The screen was, therefore, packed up again and re- 
turned to the Crown Princess. When the Empress 
Eugenie settled down with her husband at Chislehurst it 
was sent to her from Germany and so finally reached its 
rightful owners. 

Meanwhile, the war dragged on. Paris, heroically 
suffering the greatest hardships, was still withstanding 
all German efforts to reduce it. The steady influx of 
wounded into Germany increased, and the indignation of 
the Crown Princess at the appalling conditions of some 
of the Berlin hospitals is well evidenced in the following 
letters : 

I go into the hospitals every day [she wrote to Queen Victoria 
on January 7], What an effort it costs me I cannot tell you, as I 
have nothing to do in them and I see how badly managed they are 
without being able to improve them. The stifling atmosphere is 
enough to knock one down and the dirt too repulsive but the 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1871 managing ladies seem quite satisfied the poor victims are so 
touchingly contented, patient and grateful in their untold suffer- 
ings! My spirits are very low and bad the thought of all the 
misery, woe and suffering of both countries weighs day and night 
upon me. After Paris is taken perhaps there may be a chance of 
peace. I honour the French for not giving in, though I think they 
are exhausting their country and pushing their point cfkonneur 
too far. I think that those who did not wish for war should openly 
say so now ; the consequences of war are not their doing and they 
are not responsible for it, therefore they should try to stop the 
mischief it is doing. Our army is straining every nerve in this sad 
contest. The bombardment of Paris is a grievous necessity and 
felt to be so by everyone engaged in it. 

These times are more trying than I can describe one's feelings 
are lacerated on all sides the most cruel impressions crowd upon 
one and the horizon seems hopelessly dark and dreary. 

You cannot think [she wrote again on January n] how 
wretchedly unhappy I am about the war. The bombardment is 
too dreadful to be thought of, and yet I know it cannot be helped. 
The French should have thought of all the risks they were running 
in case theirs should not be the winning side when they forced the 
warl 

The position and task of our troops is too arduous and perilous 
the hardships and dangers they have to go through are too great 
for there to be much pity left for our enemies in the public at 
large, whose feelings are of course so harassed and worked up 
by all they have to endure in many ways, by the absence of their 
relations and by our losses, and the sad and cruel sight of the 
crowded hospitals! But I cannot help feeling the deepest pity for 
our unfortunate enemy though I attribute to them alone the 
blame, and the responsibility for all the endless misery daily in- 
curred. I suffer more at present from the thought of all this than 
from my personal anxiety for Fritz and the long trying separation. 
I would gladly bear my share and much more if I could but save 
the lives of the poor creatures, victims of the warl 

Three days later she again wrote : 

As the messenger has only this minute arrived, I have hardly 
a minute's time left to answer your dear and kind letter which 
114 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

was balm to my harassed feelings! I cannot describe the soreness 1871 
and anxiety, the mental sufferings I go through daily on so many 
scores. The Queen and Fritz share all these feelings their senti- 
ments are just and elevated the future weighs on them as it does 
on me they know all the dangers and difficulties before us I I 
have had two beautiful letters from dear Fritz, which do his kind 
and noble heart such honour I What our army has to go through 
is really dreadful, and the esprit de corps is really magnificent, fills 
me with admiration and respect. But the public at large are excited, 
irritable, etc., and do not show themselves to advantage. 

The poor Queen is not so popular as she deserves! She is 
perhaps not always happy in the things she does, and her feelings 
for French and Catholics are slightly different from mine you 
know she displeases people. But she strives hard to fulfil all her 
duties, and has a really vornehme Gesinnung as a lady, a Queen and 
a Christian ought to have, and at these times which are so hard 
and trying deserves gratitude and sympathy and respect. 

I send you a statuette of Fritz in plaster of Paris which is very 
like, till I can get you a better one in bronze. I am sure he will 
be so much pleased to stand in effigy on your table. I have received 
no photos by this messenger. 

You ask why Fritz Carl is called " the Red Prince '*. He always 
wears the uniform of the Red Hussars of the Guards, or the Ziethen 
Husaren, of which he is Colonel, who have red coats with silver 
and a red Kolpack. 

I think the protest of the French against the bombardment 
foolish and undignified. They have bombarded us night and day for 
two months, why should our batteries not answer ? They refused 
to listen when England tried to mediate at the beginning of the war, 
and would not brook interference. I do not see why they should 
cry out for help now, merely because they over-rated their own 
forces and under-estimated Germany's power. My grief for the 
sufferings they have to endure is unbounded, but how can we as a 
nation help it ? And how immense is the loss entailed upon us by 
the continuation of the war. . . . 

Meanwhile, the German victories had smoothed the 
path for German unity. The princes, headed by the King 
of Bavaria, now invited King William to assume the 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1871 leadership of Germany ; and on January 18, in the Palace 
of Versailles, he was proclaimed, with imposing cere- 
mony, German Emperor. The change of title was by no 
means warmly welcomed by the Prussian royal family. 
On January 20 the Crown Princess wrote to Queen 
Victoria a letter which shows how difficult was at times 
the position of the Princess in the German court : 

I was going to tell you by the Empress's (Queen's) own desire 
that she knew nothing whatever of the adoption of the Imperial 
title on the i8th, nor of the Proclamation. The Emperor is so 
averse to the whole change that he did not like it spoken of before- 
hand, and no one else took the initiative of informing us here of 
what was going to be done! Of course this was an embarrassing 
and awkward position for my mother-in-law who resented the 
proceeding very much. I had a deal of difficulty in calming her 
down. She calls me to witness her having known nothing until 
the day came. I own it is wrong, but I do not think it strange. At 
Versailles everyone is wrapt up in military things, and the anxiety, 
uncertainty and responsibility are so great that all other considera- 
tions seem to be forgotten or at least treated hurriedly. 

You say you are glad that my Mama-in-law and I get on well 
now together. The wretchedness of my life when we do not, you 
do not know. I am only too glad when she will let me be on a 
comfortable footing with her. No one knows her really good and 
great qualities better than I do, or is happier to see her in a good 
humour. What I am going to say may sound presumptuous, but 
I do not think the Empress could have a daughter-in-law who 
better appreciated the good she has in her who is more devoted 
heart and soul to the cause she has served, who can enter into her 
interests more thoroughly, or is more ready to catch up the thread 
where she has left it and work in the same direction. I have fought 
her battles and smoothed her path wherever I could. I bear no 
malice or resentment, though she has made me suffer much (more 
than you perhaps can imagine). I am glad to forget it, and remember 
only her better moods and her acts of kindness. I feel a deep pity for 
her as nature has given her a character and temper which must tend 
to unhappiness and Unbefriedigwg wherever she be, and she has 
had many a sore and bitter hour to go through during her life. I 
116 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

shall feel happy and thankful if I can in any way contribute to make 1871 
this and the later period of her existence more peaceful and happy. 

I have not a minute to myself, not even to rest of an evening, 
as I either go to the Queen, or she comes to me. I can do this 
now (though it is a great sacrifice), but when Fritz comes home 
I shall not be able, and I fear she will not understand this. 

I will prepare some little extracts from Fritz's letters for you, 
which I am sure you will like. Dear Fritz, the long separation 
seems very hard sometimes, but I have no right to complain. 

The defeats of General Bourbaki [at Belfort by General von 
Werder] and General Chanzy [near Le Mans on January n by 
Prince Frederick Charles] are a great thing and I trust will bring 
this horrible war to an end sooner. 

Five days later, January 25, 1871, the Crown Princess 
remembered with pathetic sentiment the occasion of her 
wedding thirteen years earlier. 

I waited till this day so dear to me had come round to thank 
you for your dear letter of the 2ist. How much my thoughts are 
with you today and darling Papa! How I cling to all the precious 
recollections of you both and your love my- home and friends 
so fast receding into the pastl 

I little thought then [she wrote] that this day would find Fritz 
where he is now and engaged in so awful a taskl And yet I am 
so proud of him and every day more grateful that I am his there 
lives no kinder, purer, nobler, better man than he is, and is not 
that the greatest praise one can bestow and worth all military glory 
twice over ? These six months* separation are very hard, but his 
love and kindness make me happy from afar and I am touched 
at his finding time to write every day to me in spite of all he has 
to do! His letters are a great comfort! 

The awful sufferings of the French move one to the greatest 
pity, but of course my feelings are specially harassed by thinking 
of all our poor men have to go through! Blessed will the day be 
when we have peace and all man's ingenuity, all the powers of 
head, heart and hands can be devoted to efface the sad trace of 
all these horrors I I am sure much can be done, and that is at this 
sad time the thought from which I derive most comfort. 

The sentimentality for France so apparent in England is sad 

117 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1871 for us though it can be easily explained. I think that people will 
acknowledge that it has more to do with the feelings than with 
reason, and therefore I trust it will pass over when unlucky 
France gives up her resistance. 

Two days later the eldest son of the Crown Princess 
celebrated his thirteenth birthday. That day the Crown 
Prince echoed the thoughts of the Princess as he noted 
in his Diary : 

Today is Wilhelm's thirteenth birthday. May he grow up a 
good upright, true and trusty man, one who delights in all that is 
good and beautiful, a thorough German who will one day learn to 
advance further in the paths laid down by his grandfather and father 
for the good governance of our noble Fatherland, working without 
fear or favour for the true good of his country. Thank God there 
is between him and us, his parents, a simple, natural, cordial relation, 
to preserve which is our constant endeavour, that he may always 
look upon us as his true, his best friends. It is truly a disquieting 
thought to realise how many hopes are even now set on this boy's 
head and how great a responsibility to the Fatherland we have to 
bear in the conduct of his education, while outside considerations 
of family and rank, court life in Berlin and many other things make 
his upbringing so much harder. God grant we may guard him 
suitably against whatever is base, petty, trivial, and by good guid- 
ance train him for the difficult office he is to fill! 1 

It was now beginning to dawn on the French, or 
rather the Government in Paris, that further resistance 
was hopeless, as their supplies must give out in a week's 
time. In Germany everyone was tired of the war and 
wanted peace. The Crown Princess echoed the feelings of 
the majority when she wrote on January 28 : 

A thousand thanks for your dear letter by messenger which 
gave me so much pleasure with all its kind wishes for the 2jth, 
and yesterday our dear Willie's birthday. He was so delighted 
with your presents. I had arranged a little surprise for him and 

1 The War Diary oftke Emperor Frederick, p. 285. 
118 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

the others, allowing them to go to the Schauspielhaus and see a 1871 
Panorama, which amused them very much. We are trembling and 
hoping for peace! This wish or passionate prayer of two whole 
nations must be granted it would be a disappointment too 
dreadful to bear, if peace did not come. Everyone is worn out 
with the strain on all one's feelings on the one side, patriotism 
and the pride which looks upon one's troops, and on the other the 
pity for the poor French, the grief at the death of so many of our 
dear soldiers, and the anxiety, which never leaves one day or night, 
about those still in the field. 

I telegraphed our title to you yesterday. We are called Kaiser- 
liche und Konigliche Hoheit Kronprinz des Deutschen Reichs 
und von Preussen. The King is called Deutscher Kaiser, Konig 
von Preussen, but usually Kaiser und Konig ; the Empress, of 
course, " die Kaiserin-Konigin ". She is beyond measure delighted 
at your kind words to her and those to me about her. I am always 
spoken to as Imperial Highness (I own I liked the other better), 
but as it reminds one of the great political fact of Germany's being 
gathered under one head, I am proud to bear this title. I send 
you today the extracts from Fritz's letters. Pray let them remain 
unknown to anyone except just Lenchen and Christian. I have 
not even told Fritz that they are copied and sent to you. 

Dear Aunt Clementine's letter I have sent as you wished to 
Alice, without letting anyone else see it. You can surely answer 
her that if the French Government had listened to yours in this 
month of July, they would never have exposed their beautiful 
capital to the unavoidable horrors of war, siege and bombardment! 
They were warned, but would not listen. 

I am sure you would be pleased with William if you were to 
see him he has Bertie's pleasant, amiable ways and can be very 
winning. He is not possessed of brilliant abilities, nor of any 
strength of character or talents, but he is a dear boy, and I hope 
and trust will grow up a useful man. He has an excellent tutor, I 
never saw or knew a better, and all the care that can be bestowed 
on mind and body is taken of him. I watch over him myself, over 
each detail, even the minutest, of his education, as his Papa had 
never had die time to occupy himself with the children. These next 
few years will be very critical and important for him, as they are 
the passage from childhood to manhood, I am happy to say that 
between him and me there is a bond of love and confidence, which 

"9 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1871 I feel sure nothing can destroy. He has very strong health and 
would be a very pretty boy were it not for that wretched unhappy 
arm which shows more and more, spoils his face (for it is on one 
side), his carriage, walk and figure, makes him awkward in all 
his movements, and gives him a feeling of shyness, as he feels his 
complete dependence, not being able to do a single thing for 
himself. It is a great additional difficulty in his education, and is 
not without its effect on his character. To me it remains an in- 
expressible source of sorrow ! I think he will be very good-looking 
when he grows up, and he is already a universal favourite, as he 
is so lively and generally intelligent. He is a mixture of all our 
brothers there is very little of his Papa, or the family of Prussia 
about him. 

The intense desire of the Crown Princess for peace 
was now gratified. The steady bombardment of Paris, 
coupled with starvation within its gates and the failure 
of all efforts at relief, compelled the Parisians to sue for 
terms. On January 28 Paris capitulated, and an armistice 
of three weeks was agreed upon between Bismarck and 
Jules Favre, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs. 
The Crown Princess was relieved, but by no means jubi- 
lant. As she wrote to Queen Victoria on February 4 : 

Many most affectionate thanks for your dear letter by messenger. 
I was sure you would feel as thankful for the Armistice as we do ! 
Fritz praises Monsieur Jules Favre. I pity the luckless man to have 
to be the bearer of tidings which' must irritate the Parisians and 
provincial war party to the extreme ; but I trust that party is losing 
ground. They seem to have totally miscalculated the amount of 
food contained in Paris and were therefore obliged to capitulate. 
What an intense relief it is to know that the sufferings of those 
poor creatures are at an end! 

We know nothing about the Emperor's return, but he cannot 
leave his Army before Peace or (what would be too awful and 
seems most unlikely) a recommencement of hostilities is decided 
upon. Just fancy in these six months we have lost (the Prussian 
Army) uoo Officers alone! Does it not seem too dreadful! Half 
our acquaintances and friends are gone! It makes me quite ill to 
1 2O 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

read the newspapers and all the accounts of the destruction and 1871 
ruin in France. It is the retaliation for the way in which the French 
treated Germany in 1806-1809 from which we are still suffering. 
The town of Kdnigsberg had not finished paying off the contribu- 
tion levied by Napoleon I. last yearl 

Perhaps the Emperor and Fritz will return for the opening of 
the Reichstag, which is to be on the 9th March. 

I go to the hospitals whenever I can spare an hour and many 
are the sad and heartrending sights I have seen. The cold causes such 
dreadful frostbites. Yesterday I was told of five unlucky wretches 
whose feet were frozen on the railway and who will have to have 
their feet taken off. All these horrors make me too miserable, the 
thought of what so many poor unfortunate human beings have to 
endure haunts me day and night. 

The proposed terms of peace were hard. There was 
magnanimity, even chivalry, in Prussian treatment of 
Denmark in 1864 and Austria and Saxony in 1866 ; 
neither was shown to France in 1871. The greater part 
of Alsace and Lorraine, a huge indemnity and other crush- 
ing spoils were demanded. In vain did the Crown Prince 
and even Bismarck seek to relinquish the claim to Metz; 
Moltke and the generals were resolute. The spirit of 
France had to be broken, and it could only be broken, 
they urged, by the rod of humiliation. English opinion 
now veered over entirely in favour of France, and the 
Crown Princess, in her letter of February 7, 1871, when 
these terms of peace were rumoured, dismissed them as 
preposterous. 

Many most affectionate thanks for your dear letter of the 4th. 
I cannot think how mine could have been such a long while on the 
road I Meanwhile you will have the report about the most exorbi- 
tant conditions of peace contradicted; it seems it was invented by a 
German newspaper correspondent. I never believed it for a moment. 
At such a moment as this, a report of this kind is enough to make 
everyone cry out. No one seems to doubt of the possibility of peace 
being soon concluded at Versailles, in spite of Gambetta's efforts to 

121 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1871 the contrary. It is too ardently desired by both sides not to succeed 
in the end, though I am sure we shall be worried and excited by 
all sorts of fluctuating reports, difficulties, etc., before the final 
settlement. 

The British Government possibly held the same views, 
for two days later, at the formal opening of Parliament, 
the speech from the throne seemed to express sympathy 
with France, an event which gave great annoyance to the 
German Empress. The following day (February 10) the 
Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

I saw the Queen-Empress, who was irate about your speech in 
Parliament, saying that it flattered the French unnecessarily and 
expressed unconcealed sympathy with their cause, that it omitted 
saying a word about the origin of the war, or even expressing 
again what everyone had admitted, that Germany was attacked 
and not attacking, that the passage about Germany was more than 
cold and decidedly the reverse of civil. The Empress went on to 
add that it had made the same impression upon everyone here, 
that it would create a very bad feeling, etc. In short, she was very 
angry. As I could not go her length about it, we could not agree. 
Alas, it is true that the excitement against England is very great 
just at this moment. It was not so a fortnight ago, but now people 
are frantic at the anti-German feeling in England, which reveals it- 
self more every day. They think it unjust and unfair! How I suffer 
from all this I cannot say, as of course I cannot hear a word said 
against England and I give it back (I fear not always gently) when 
I hear sharp words. Popular opinion is like the sea it is easily 
lashed up into fury and the waves calm down by degrees when 
the wind ceases blowing and so it will be with these storms of 
indignation in both our countries, there is injustice in the feeling 
of both. I must own the speech did not strike me in the sense which 
is attached to it here, and I fancy it was well adapted for England, 
which of course is the proper criterion. 

In reply to a further letter from the Crown Princess, 1 
Queen Victoria, whose affection for her eldest grandson 
had been long remarked, made reply : 

1 Which is unfortunately not available. 
122 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

I will finish today [she wrote on February 11, 1871], and wish 1871 
just to touch on your answer to my observations and hopes respect- 
ing Willie. The vehemence with which you speak of " the horror 
of low company " would make it appear as though I had advocated 
it! The low company you speak of consisting of actors, actresses, 
musicians, barbers (in one case at least), etc. are the very reverse 
of what I suggested, for those sorts of people are the proudest and 
unkindest to those below them and to the poor. What I meant 
(but what I fear your position in Prussia, living always in a Palace 
with the ideas of immense position of Kings and Princes, etc.) is : 
that the Princes and Princesses should be thoroughly kind, mensch- 
lich, should not feel that they were of a different flesh and blood to 
the poor, the peasants and working classes and servants, and that 
going amongst them, as we always did and do, and as every respect- 
able lady and gentleman does here was of such immense benefit 
to the character of those who have to reign hereafter. To hear of 
their wants and troubles, to minister to diem, to look after them 
and be kind to them (as you and your sisters were accustomed to 
be by good old Tilla) does immense good to the character of 
children and grown-up people. It is there that you learn lessons of 
kindness to one another, of patience, endurance and resignation 
which cannot be found elsewhere. The mere contact with soldiers 
never can do that, or rather the reverse, for they are bound to obey 
and no independence of character can be expected in the ranks. 

The Germans must be very different from the English and above 
all from the Scotch if they are not fit to be visited in this way. 
But I fear they are, from what dear Papa often said, and the English 
even are in that respect, especially in the South for in the North 
they possess a good deal of that great independence of character, 
determination, coupled with real high noble feelings, which will 
not brook being treated with haughtiness. The Germans have less 
of this. 

Dear Papa knew how to value and appreciate this, and so do 
our children as much as I do and all reflecting minds here. This is 
what I meant and maintained is essential for a Prince or Princess of 
our times. Regarding the higher classes, the way in which their 
sins and immoralities are overlooked, indulged, forgiven when 
the third part in lower orders would be highly punished, is enough 
to cause democratic feelings and resentment. I am sure you watch 
over your dear boy with the greatest care, but I often think too 

J2 3 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1871 great care, too much constant watching, leads to the very dangers 
hereafter which one wishes to avoid. 

It is a terrible difficulty and a terrible trial to be a Prince. No 
one having the courage to tell them the truth or accustom them to 
those rubs and knocks which are so necessary to boys and young 
men. 

That your dear boys may grow up all that you can wish and 
desire and be good men and Christians and beloved and looked up 
to is my earnest prayer 1 l 

To this letter the Crown Princess made reply (Feb- 
ruary 15) : 

Many affectionate thanks for your dear, long and interesting 
letter which I received the day before yesterday and am distressed 
not to be able to answer as fully as I should like. But it does not 
seem to me as if I had misunderstood your first letter. I think 
in the main as you do though I suppose I expressed myself 
differently. You wish the same results as I do. But my children 
see more beyond the walls of a Palace than you think, although 
we are so much more in town than you and dear Papa used to be. 
Our farm and the village at Darmstadt, where the children are 
with me every day, gives them an opportunity of going in and 
out of the cottages though the inhabitants are not all so nice and 
simple as one could wish. The German Bauer is not a very amiable 
individual and is distinguished by his obstinacy and hardness. 
Country life affords a thousand opportunities for a natural Verkehr 
with the people of hamlets and villages which of course those 
who live in a town are debarred from. Our little school is an 
interest which the children share, and the more independent we 
become the more we shall be able to procure for our children all 
that is healthy, simple, natural and good for their minds and 
character. So I think you will see I do understand what you mean. 

Meanwhile, the latent irritation between England and 
Germany seemed to be growing, and the position of the 
Crown Princess had become more difficult. Moreover, 
now that British public opinion had become anti-German, 

1 Both this letter and the following one refer to other letters 
which are unfortunately missing. 
124 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

those whose sympathies were with the French did not 1871 
hesitate to accuse Queen Victoria and her family of a 
breach of neutrality in sending messages of congratula- 
tion to the German royal family. These accusations 
became so serious that the matter was brought up in the 
House of Commons, but Mr. Gladstone poured what oil 
he could on these troubled waters, and the matter was 
eventually dropped. 

The Crown Princess was full of sympathy for the 
difficult part her mother had to play and viewed with 
intense regret the growing animosity between England 
and Germany. On March 4 she wrote : 

A thousand most tender thanks for your dear and kind letter 
by messenger. I am sure it must give you who are so generous, 
kind and just, pain to think of the animosity growing in England 
against Germany, but it is no use shutting our eyes against facts, 
and that it is one I do not doubt. It makes your position often 
trying, I am sure ; but I can understand what that position is ; 
you must not in any way allow yourself to be separated from your 
own people the first people in the world, for I may say so to you, 
and it is every day more my conviction. How much I have suffered 
from the feeling between the two nations I cannot say I How at 
times unkindly and unjustly I have been used! And how many 
tears I have shed! But one must learn to look at things philo- 
sophically. Peoples are like individuals in many things. One 
knows what a quarrel is between friends or relations, one can trace 
the reasons small or great, and can calculate their effects on an 
excited brain. Time cures this. Now we have peace at last, the 
news of our doings in France will no longer exasperate the English 
by working up their pity for the most unfortunate but guilty 
French. 

Peace too will put an end to the part of a neutral, which is a 
most difficult part ; and though I regretted England should have 
played it, still I think the Government has done it admirably; 
that it should have been taken at all, exasperated Germany ; now 
that reason is removed I am sure it will calm down. If angry words, 
scoffs and taunts, thrown backwards and forwards like a shuttle- 

125 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1871 cock, conjure up mischief and ill-will, so must kind acts and words, 
and the rightly expressed sentiments of sensible men, reproduce 
the feelings which ought to exist between Germany and England. 
Count Bismarck is not eternal, he will be as quickly forgotten as 
the poor Emperor Napoleon, who is now scarcely remembered. . . . 

A fortnight later the victorious Crown Prince returned 
to Berlin and once again the Crown Prince and Princess 
and their family of six were reunited. The Crown Prin- 
cess's cup of happiness was full. Her work in the hospitals 
had at length received some little recognition, her husband 
had returned covered with glory from an arduous war, 
her family appeared to be growing up well and strong, 
and Germany had taken her place in the front rank of the 
Great Powers. For the third time in seven years a war 
had been brought to a successful conclusion, each time 
with increased prestige and territory for the conqueror. 
Germany was enfete^ and the Crown Princess was now 
unknowingly at her zenith. On March 28, 1871, she wrote 
to Queen Victoria : 

Many thanks for your dear letter received yesterday. By 
Louise's telegram I see the Emperor Napoleon [who had been 
released from Germany and, for the third time in his career, had 
taken up his residence in England] has been to see you. I am sure 
this visit must have been a painful one to both! We hear from 
different sides well acquainted with his doings that he has great 
hopes of regaining his throne since this dreadful revolution in 
Paris. I wonder he can wish it and is not too proud to entertain 
any such idea after all that has been said and written in public 
about his Government by the French. . . . 

We are quite exhausted by the fatigue of these continued f^tes, 
for I suppose there will be a repetition when the troops return 
and the statue of Frederick William will be unveiled. How the 
Emperor and Empress can stand it and like it all is beyond my 
comprehension all other mortals get knocked up. The state of 
France makes it impossible to tell when our troops will be home. 
The middle of May, most people say. 
126 



THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

Even after the peace of Frankfort, however, Anglo- 1871 
German animosity did not appear to undergo any allevia- 
tion, and when it was rumoured that a statue of King 
Frederick William III. was to be unveiled at Berlin on 
June 1 6 with all the pomp of the return of the victorious 
German army, but in the absence of the British Ambas- 
sador (Lord Augustus Loftus, who was on leave in Baden), 
the Crown Princess telegraphed to Lord Granville, the 
British Foreign Secretary, to ask if this slight could not 
be avoided. Lord Granville's reply (June 14) ran : 

I have had the honour of receiving your Royal Highness's 
telegram of today and I gladly avail myself of an opportunity of 
writing a few lines to your Royal Highness. 

There is a series of circulars to our Ambassadors abroad, regulat- 
ing their conduct when this country has been a neutral during 
the time of a European war, on the occasion of rejoicings at the 
victories which have been gained. 

I am afraid if our Ambassador was at Berlin at a moment when 
German enthusiasm must, as at the present moment, be raised to 
the highest point after the glorious and extraordinary achievements 
of the last year, the observance by him of the rules, which have 
been laid down and acted upon on former occasions, would create 
some comment and disappointment among those who were not 
aware of our rules. Lord A. Loftus having taken two months' 
leave, it is perfectly natural he should not be at his post. The 
embassy will be illuminated, and I have received the Queen's per- 
mission to write a letter instructing Mr. Petre to congratulate the 
Emperor warmly in Her Majesty's name on the inauguration of the 
statue of Frederick William the Third. . . . 

On June 16 the statue was formally unveiled after a 
march past of the triumphant returning troops and the 
presentation to the Crown Prince of his Field-Marshal's 
baton, but the absence of the British Ambassador was 
remarked. 

Queen Victoria was now anxious to restore harmony 

127 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1871 between the Crown Princess and her brother, the Prince 
of "Wales, whose French leanings during the war had 
caused much heartburning in Berlin. "With this end in 
view the Queen invited the Crown Prince and Princess 
and their family to London in July, when a happy recon- 
ciliation was made/^the Prince of Wales showing all his 
old cordiality. At the outset, the Crown Prince and 
Princess stayed (from July 3 to 13) at the German Em- 
bassy, where the Prince and Princess of Wales often 
visited them. The four were in agreement on many 
points, notably in their joint " horror " of Bismarck, 
whose unprincipled " driving power " was, the Crown 
Prince deplored, " omnipotent ".* The Crown Prince 
returned to Germany on the i3th, but the Princess re- 
mained to spend the summer and early autumn with the 
Queen at Osborne or Balmoral. At both places she had 
many opportunities of renewing that cordial relationship 
with her brother which had been somewhat interrupted 
by the war. 

1 Extract from Queen Victoria's Diary, cited in article entitled 
" Queen Victoria and France ", by R. S. Rait in Quarterly Review, 
July 1919, pp. 10, n. 



128 



CHAPTER V 

BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

THE startling and overwhelming German victories in 1871 
the field during the Franco-German War had now placed 
Germany upon a pinnacle of military glory. Her mercury 
had risen rapidly, and Bismarck, prudent, watchful and 
ambitious, early realised that the first essential to the 
security of the new German Empire was the continuance 
of benevolent friendliness on the part of Russia. Ger- 
many, no longer a fortuitous concourse of antagonistic 
states, was now a power to be reckoned with. In alliance 
with Russia, Austria and Italy she would be the dominat- 
ing factor in Europe the goal to which Bismarck was 
driving. Hence in the following year Bismarck arranged 
a meeting between the Emperors of Germany, Russia 
and Austria, and there resulted that vague friendly Dm- 
fadserhmd which was presumed to be the forerunner of 
alliances. 1 

One of the diplomatic changes following the Franco- 
German War was the translation of Lord Augustus 
Loftus, the British Ambassador at Berlin, to St Peters- 
burg, and his replacement by Mr. Odo Russell (after- 
wards Lord Ampthill). The Crown Princess had never 
been on terms of more than social acquaintance with Lord 

1 In 1879 the Austro-German Alliance was formed, which was 
joined in 1882 by Italy, thus creating the Triple Alliance, 

K 129 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1871 Augustus Loftus, whose Danish sympathies during the 
war of 1864 had antagonised her, but with the new Am- 
bassador there sprang up at once a keen, delightful and 
lasting friendship. At Vienna Russell had begun his 
diplomatic career, and after short periods at the Paris, 
Constantinople and Washington embassies, he was ap- 
pointed, in 1858, to the British Legation at Florence 
whence he was detached to reside in Rome. At the end of 
1870, his tact and ability were recognised when he was 
sent on a special mission to the headquarters of the Ger- 
man army at Versailles, where he became the trusted friend 
of the Crown Prince. In 1871 he was appointed Am- 
bassador to Berlin. He had scarcely entered upon his 
duties when he received instructions from the Foreign 
Office to intimate to Bismarck (now Chancellor of the 
German Empire) that Great Britain was in danger of being 
involved in war with Russia. 

In the preceding year the rivalry between Great 
Britain and Russia in Central Asia and the Near East had 
become more and more acute, and Bismarck had carefully 
fostered a growing friendship that had sprung up between 
the Emperors of Russia and Germany. In the October 
of 1870, the Emperor of Russia, feeling that while Ger- 
many and France were locked in a death struggle there 
was small chance of their intervening in outside affairs, 
determined to rid Russia of an irksome article in the 
Treaty of Paris of 1856 which prohibited her using 
the Black Sea for warships. Lord Granville, the British 
Foreign Secretary, immediately threatened war as the 
consequence of this cynical disregard of the Treaty. 
Bismarck suggested a conference, which eventually took 
place in London in March 1871, when a new treaty was 
signed by which the neutralisation of the Black Sea was 
130 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

annulled. The British diplomatic defeat was complete, 1872 
and neither Germany nor Russia forgot that at this junc- 
ture their mutual support had been too much for Great 
Britain. 

Not unnaturally Bismarck's policy ran counter to the 
aspirations of those who sought a closer understanding 
between the new Germany and England of whom the 
Crown Princess, rightly or wrongly, was assumed to be 
the leader. In addition to the international questions 
which threatened European complications, there were 
no less difficult problems due to dissensions within the 
German court. The imperious and vindictive Bismarck 
was by no means friendly to the Empress Augusta, whom 
he conceived to be opposed to his policy of limiting the 
powers of the Catholic Church in Prussia, nor indeed 
were his relations with the Crown Princess any better : 
and he frequently complained to the British Ambassador 
in the bluntest language of the lack of harmony between 
them. Lady Emily Russell, wife of Mr. Odo Russell, 1873 
writing to Queen Victoria on March 15, 1873, a f ter an 
official dinner at the British Embassy which had been 
attended by the German Emperor and Empress, gives an 
indication of the tension which then existed : 

I avail myself of Your Majesty's gracious permission to write, 
to say how deeply gratified we have been by the visit their 
Majesties the Emperor and Empress have deigned to pay us, and 
by the exceptional favour conferred upon us, by their Majesties 
being pleased to accept a dinner at the Embassy. 

This high distinction, which no other Embassy has ever yet 
enjoyed in Berlin, is due to those deep feelings of devoted admira- 
tion which Her Imperial Majesty the Empress Augusta never 
ceases to express in eloquent and glowing terms, when speaking 
of her friendship and sympathy for Your Majesty. My husband 
says that this gracious demonstration of goodwill towards Your 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1873 Majesty's Embassy reported by all the press of Germany, will do 
more towards improving the friendly relations of England and 
Germany, he has so much at heart, than a thousand despatches and 
blue books. The Empress whose conversation is so brilliantly 
clever, as Your Majesty knows, was more so than ever throughout 
the evening. Her Majesty repeatedly said " I fancy myself in dear 
England ", and before rising from dinner drank Your Majesty's 
health in terms of affectionate respect and with all sincere good 
wishes for Your Majesty's welfare and happiness. Their Imperial 
Majesties were immensely cheered by the crowd in the street both 
on coming to, and leaving the Embassy. 

Your Majesty is aware of the political jealousy of Prince Bis- 
marck about the Empress Augusta's influence over the Emperor, 
which he thinks stands in the way of his anti-Clerical and National 
policy, and prevents the formation of responsible ministries as in 
England. The Empress told my husband he [Bismarck] has only 
twice spoken to Her Majesty since the war, and [she] expressed a 
wish that he should dine with us also. According to etiquette he 
would have had to sit on the left side of the Empress, and Her 
Majesty would then have had an hour during which he could not 
have escaped conversing. Prince Bismarck accepted our invitation 
but said he would prefer to set aside etiquette, and cede the " pas " 
to the Austrian Ambassador. However, on the day of the dinner 
and a short time before the hour appointed, Prince Bismarck sent 
an excuse saying he was ill with lumbago. The diplomatists look 
mysterious and hint at his illness being a diplomatic one. 

Prince Bismarck often expresses his hatred for the Empress in 
such strong language that my husband is placed in a very difficult 
position and still more so, when he complains of the want of 
harmony existing between Her Royal and Imperial Highness the 
Crown Princess and himself. He says he is able to agree with 
the Crown Prince, but he fears that will never be possible with 
the Crown Princess. 

This state of things is very distressing and my husband is 
more unhappy about it than he can ever say, because he foresees 
difficulties in the future that will be quite beyond the influence of 
diplomacy, Prince Bismarck being so unscrupulous in his use of 
the press to undermine his political enemies as his letter insinuat- 
ing that the Empress was sending money to the refractory Catholic 
priests through the Chamberlain Count Schaffgotsch proves. 

132 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

My husband fears that Prince Bismarck will seek to make the 1873 
position of the Crown Princess with the public a very difficult one, 
in order to have his own way about the administration of Germany, 
which he wants to unify altogether, as Cavour unified Italy by 
mediatising the reigning Princes. 

The Emperor expressed in the warmest terms his high sense 
of honour conferred on Countess Bernstorff by Your Majesty's 
visit and said how much touched he and the Empress had been by 
it Their Majesties do not yet know whom Prince Bismarck intends 
to propose as successor to poor Count Bernstorff. 

We had the honour of a visit, a week ago, from Prince William 
and Prince Henry accompanied by Herr Hintzpeter, Their Royal 
Highness' Preceptor. Everyone who has the gratification of speak- 
ing to Prince William is struck by his naturally charming and 
amiable qualities, his great intelligence and his admirable education. 
The return of Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and 
Princess has been a great joy and gratification and also to witness 
the perfect restoration to health of the Crown Prince. We had the 
honour of dining alone with Their Imperial Highnesses the day 
before yesterday and we were delighted to see how well His 
Imperial Highness looked, and seemed, and that with the exception 
of being a little paler his illness had left no traces. Her Imperial 
Highness was looking very well. 

Ever since the Franco-German War the relations 
between the Crown Princess and the Prince of Wales 
had known no cloud, and brother and sister repeatedly 
exchanged visits. When, in July 1874, the Crown Prince 1874 
and Princess visited London, where they stayed at the 
German Embassy, The Times^ in a burst of good feeling, 
described the Crown Prince as " the consistent friend 
in Prussia of all mild and liberal administration ", and 
predicted that when the liberal-minded Crown Prince 
ascended the German throne the main obstacles to friend- 
ship between the two countries would disappear. 

At the end of August 1874 the Prince and Princess of 
Wales came to Berlin to attend the confirmation of Prince 

133 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1 874 William of Prussia the Crown Princess's eldest son and 
after the boy's confirmation his uncle, the Prince of 
Wales, wrote on September i ? 1874, to Queen Victoria 
from the Neue Palais : 

I was much struck with the solemnity and simplicity of the 
service. Willy went through his examination admirably, and the 
questions he had to answer must have lasted half an hour. It was 
a great ordeal for him to go through before the Emperor and 
Empress and all his family. I was only too glad to take the Sacra- 
ment with Vicky and Fritz and Willy, after the ceremony, and the 
service is almost the same as ours. Willy was much pleased with 
your presents which were laid out in my sitting-room. Your letter 
to him and the inscription you wrote in the Bible I thought beauti- 
ful, and I read them to him. All you said I thought so very true. 1 

The Crown Princess's own letter to her mother 
(September i) ran : 

It is a difficult task to give you a description of today, as my 
heart is so filled with emotion that I do not know where to begin. 
But first of all let me thank you most tenderly for all your kind 
and touching marks of sympathy. The kind letter you wrote me 
arrived this morning before the ceremony began, which was of 
course a great comfort, as I feel your absence very much on this 
occasion. Your letter to William and especially what you wrote 
into his Bible was beautiful and touched Fritz very much indeed. 
We thank you a thousand times for it! Willy was delighted and 
surprised at suddenly becoming the possessor of so large and beautiful 
a picture of dear Papal Dear Bertie is all kindness, so considerate, 
so amiable and affectionate so kindly accepting all that we can 
do for his comfort or entertainment, which alas is not much. He 
is as amiable a guest as he is a host, and this is saying a great deall 
It is a great comfort and happiness to have him here, as I should 
have felt rather low at having no one of pur family present. 

The ceremony took place at n. Fritz and I drove with Willy 
and took him into the vestry to wait until the company had 
assembled and taken their seats in the church I We received the 
Emperor and Empress and the few members of the Prussian family 

1 Sir Sidney Lee, King Edward VIL vol. i. p. 430, 

134 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

who were here outside the Friedenskirche in the cloisters you may 1874 
remember, and then all went in. The church was prettily decorated 
with wreaths of green and green plants, a low platform had been 
erected in the middle with two steps, on which the temporary 
altar stood, and a chair and a little desk were placed for Willy. A 
carpet of my own working covered the steps, and the pall which 
once covered my darling Sigie's coffin, and which I gave to the 
church as an Altardecke, covered the Communion Table ; it is all 
of white satin with S and a crown in gold in the corners. 

For the members of the royal family there were two rows of 
chairs. The rest of the company in the nave stood (I fear they must 
have been very tired, as the ceremony was very long). William 
behaved very well, and was not at all either shy or upset and 
showed the greatest sang-froid. He read his Glaulensbekenntniss 
off in a loud and steady voice and answered the forty questions 
which the clergyman put to him without hesitation or embarrass- 
ment. The Emperor's interest is warm, but alas his influence on 
the child's education whenever he enforces it is very hurtfid\ The 
Empress means most kindly. She was deeply moved and so was 
the Emperor. Charlotte, Henry and Vicky cried the whole time. 
The clergyman's three long addresses might have been better and 
shorter, still they did not spoil the ceremony I The communion 
followed directly after dearest Bertie took it with us and Willy, 
no one else receiving it except three ladies and two gentlemen of our 
household. The Emperor and Empress remained as spectators. 

As you like to hear little details I will add that I was in black 
with a plain white crepelissa bonnet, and Willy in uniform. Some- 
times I feel too young for a mother of a son already confirmed, and 
then at times so old! Another thought grieves me though one 
ought not to shrink from a sacrifice! Today is a sort of break 
up in two days the boys leave us for school where they will 
stay three years only returning for the holidays then Willy will 
go into the army and Henry to a naval school! I feel giving them 
up like this very much! 

Tomorrow is the parade at Berlin, and then the day after dear 
Bertie leaves in the early morning. Tomorrow Charlotte, Vicky 
and Waldie leave for Aussen for three or four weeks, so I am rather 
in low spirits, but it will do them good. Sandown has done worlds 
for them already and I trust this will brace them up for the winter. 

May I beg one favour you have conferred so many on us that 

135 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1874 I hardly like to ask, still I will venture will you send some mark 
of your approbation to Willie's excellent tutor Dr. Hintzpeter, to 
whom the boy owes everything. You know it has not always 
been very easy for me, nor have I always been in the Dr.'s good 
graces, but he has bravely done his duty by the boys and devoted 
himself heart and soul to their education. A mark of encourage- 
ment would, I am sure, give the greatest pleasure such as a few 
words written, and a print of yourself! 

I hope you will not think me too wbescheiden. 

I must end now, dearest Mama, being in great haste and already 
late; will you impart a little extract of^this to the Geschwister 
who may like to know how this first Confirmation in the younger 
generation has gone off! "With renewed tenderest thanks for all 
your kindness for the splendid gifts and the dear and memorable 
words to Willy. 



In the few years that had elapsed since the end of the 
Franco-Prussian War the resilience of the French tem- 
perament had been evident in the dispatch with which 
France set about healing her wounds. Before the end of 
1873 th 6 whole of the indemnity had been paid off, 
German troops had evacuated her territory, and France 
was on the road to recovery from her military humilia- 
tion. Bismarck watched the French rebound with sus- 
picion, and rumours about the increase of the French 
army and the importation of horses into France on a huge 
scale led him to fear a surprise attack, and the German 
press was mobilised to call attention to this menace. 

Queen Victoria now appealed in an autograph letter 
to the German Emperor William I. to do all he could to 
prevent another war breaking out, and asked the Tsar 
Alexander IL ? who was in Berlin at the time, to help 
with his influence. Her timely interference was fully 
justified, for the Tsar's opposition had the effect of frus- 
trating Bismarck's plans. 
136 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

Meanwhile, the Chancellor had directed his energies 1874 
to reducing the power of the Roman Catholic priest- 
hood in Prussia and had come into collision with the 
Pope, who expostulated against the drastic measures 
that were being adopted to bring the Roman Catholic 
Church under state control. King William, on Bismarck's 
advice, replied with a stern rebuke to the Pope, and 
even France and Belgium were made to disavow all 
sympathy with the Catholic Bishops who had protested 
against Bismarck's persecution of their Prussian co- 
religionists. 

The relations between the Crown Princess and Bis- 
marck at this period were almost at their worst. Since 
he had become Chancellor his attitude in general had 
become much more intractable, much more ruthless. To 
his rivals, potential or active, he adopted the attitude 
that Rome adopted towards Carthage. Germany must 
go on, juggernaut-like, to its great destiny as arbiter 
of Europe, and if a few individuals were so inconsiderate 
as to stand in the way of the German machine, they must 
be crushed. The Crown Princess, however, was not one 
of the rabble who crowded the streets she sat at the 
foot of the throne and a slight turn in fortune's wheel 
would give her the right to be co-occupant of that throne. 
Bismarck could not crush her. But her liberal leanings, 
her democratic sympathies, her abhorrence of the mailed 
fist and the policy of blood and iron, created in him a 
resentment and bitter fury that echoed through the courts 
of Europe. The Crown Princess saw that Germany re- 
quired " rest, peace and quiet " and resented the hostility 
which Bismarck was stirring up within and without the 
state. Her attitude may be gauged from her letter to 
Queen Victoria of June 5, 1875 the day following a 

137 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1875 long interview between the Crown Prince and Bismarck. 
Her letter runs : 

Fritz saw the great man yesterday evening, who is going away 
into the country for some time! He assured him that he sees no 
cause anywhere for alarm on the political horizon, that he had 
never wished for war nor intended it, that it was all the fault of 
the Berlin press, etc. He said he deeply regretted England being 
so unfriendly towards us, and the violent articles in the Times 
against us. He could not imagine why England suddenly took up 
a position against us. He added that you had been much excited 
and worked upon against us, etc., and even named the Empress 
Eugenie, etc. 11! This seems so foolish to me! Certain it is that 
he did not intend (as you will read in the little German aperfu) 
to alarm the world to the extent he has done, and is now very 
much annoyed at the consequences. He also fancies that in England 
there is great anxiety about India, and that England must therefore 
try to make friends with Russia (a nos depens). Bertie's journey 
to India is mentioned as a symptom! This seems to me very- 
absurd but that is what he thinks. Lord Derby's speech has also 
offended him, which I cannot understand. I feel sure all this irrita- 
tion will blow over. But to us and to many quiet and reflecting 
Germans it is very sad, and appears very hard to be made an 
object of universal distrust and suspicion, which we naturally are as 
long as Prince Bismarck remains the sole and omnipotent ruler of our 
destinies. His will alone is law here, and on his good or bad humour 
depend our chances of safety and peace. To the great majority 
of Germans and to most Prussians, this is a satisfactory state! He 
possesses a prestige unequalled by anything and is all powerful To 
me this state is simply intolerable and seems very dangerousl Germany 
wants rest, peace and quiet her commerce and the development of 
her inner resources are not progressing as they should! Our riches 
do not increase and we are in a most uncomfortable and crippled state 
which will so remain as long as the sword of war hangs over our heads. 

The Great Man does not quite shut his eyes to this and that 
makes me hopeful. But as long as he lives we cannot ever feel safe 
or comfortable and who knows what it will be like when he 
has gone! He fancies the conflict with the Roman Catholic church 
will be quite over by next spring ; and I know many who share 
this opinion. At present Prince Bismarck is bent on being as well 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

as possible with France, England, Austria, Russia and Italy and 1875 
all other states. He knows very little about foreign countries, and 
about England nothing at all, so he is often wrong in his surmises 
and believes any nonsense his favourites tell him. His ideas about 
the press are very mediaeval in fact he is mediaeval altogether 
and the true theories of liberty and of modern government are 
Hebrew to him, though he adopts and admits a democratic idea or 
measure now and then when he thinks they will serve his purpose ; 
and his power is unlimited. 1 

Queen Victoria replied on June 8 : 

I have just received your dear long letter with the enclosure 
which I have not had time to read properly, but I wish just to answer 
those principal points in your letter, though of course you know 
how absurd these ideas and notions of Bismarck's are. 

First, as regards my being irritated against Germany, or any- 
body else working upon mel It was I ALONE who, on hearing from 
ALL sides from our Ministers abroad of the danger of war, told my 
Ministers that everything MUST be done to prevent it, that it was too 
intolerable that a war should be got up and brought about by mutual 
reports between Germany and France, that each intended to attack 
the other, that we must prevent this and join with other Powers in 
strong remonstrances and warnings as it was not to be tolerated. 
No one wishes more, as you know, than I do for England and 
Germany to go well together ; but Bismarck is so overbearing, 
violent, grasping and unprincipled that no one can stand it, and all 
agreed that he was becoming like the first Napoleon whom Europe 
had to join in PUTTING down. This was the feeling, and we were 
determined to prevent another war. At the same time I said France 
must be told she must give no cause of anger or suspicion to Ger- 
many, and must not let them have any pretext to attack her. France 
will for many years be quite incapable of going to war and is 
terrified at the idea of it ; I know this to be a fact The Due Decazes 
is a sensible prudent man, fully aware of this, and one who is doing 
all he can to act according to this advice. 

I wrote at that moment a private letter to the Emperor Alexander 
urging him to do all he could in a pacific sense at Berlin, knowing 

1 Partly published in Buckle and Monypenny's Life of Disraeli, 
vol. v. pp. 424-425. 

139 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 



1 875 ^ e surety ne had to prevent war, ar 
uncle and he him. 

As for anyone working upon me in the sense Bismarck thinks, 
it is too absurd. I am not worked upon by anyone ; and though I 
am very intimate with the dear Empress, 1 her letters hardly ever 
contain any allusion to politics, certainly never anything which 
could be turned against her or me, and she sends her letters either 
by messenger or in indirect ways, and I mine the same. 

You know how I dislike political letters and politics in general, 
and therefore that it is not very likely that I should write to her on 
them! and the Empress Eugenie I only see once or twice a year 
and she never writes to me 11 and never speaks politics to me. So 
then you see what nonsense that is! . . . 

But Bismarck is a terrible man, and he makes Germany greatly 
disliked ; indeed no one will stand the overbearing insolent way in 
which he acts and treats other nations, Belgium for instance. 

You know the Prussians are not popular unfortunately, and no 
one will tolerate any Power wishing to dictate to all Europe. This 
country, with the greatest wish to go hand in hand with Germany, 
cannot and WILL not stand it? 

Even in those days the Balkans never failed to provide 
a spark for any conflagration that was impending in 
Europe, and when the Christians in Bosnia and Herze- 
govina broke into rebellion against Turkey in 1875 both 
Russia and England urged the Porte to grant adequate 
reforms. But the confusion grew worse, and when, in 
1876 July 1876, Montenegro and Servia declared war on their 
suzerain, Turkey, the Balkans were aflame from coast to 
coast. Mr. Gladstone, who had always concentrated his 
rhetorical powers on the atrocities committed by the 
Turks, now emerged from his retirement and headed a 
violent agitation against Turkey that had sprung up in 

1 The German Empress Augusta. 

2 Cited in the Quarterly Review^ July 1919, in article entitled 
" Queen Victoria and France ", by Sir S. Lee. 

140 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

Great Britain. Regardless of British treaty obligations, 1876 
he demanded that the traditional policy of supporting 
Turkey should be abandoned, and that the Turks should 
be expelled " bag and baggage " from the Slav provinces, 
if not from Europe altogether. 

The situation was complicated by the successes of the 
Turkish armies, which threatened the existence of Servia 
so far as to bring about the possibility of Russia's inter- 
vention. On September 16, 1876, the Crown Princess 
wrote to Queen Victoria : 

. . . What you say about the Oriental question seems very 
true to me! The difficulty surely is that there are many different 
questions which have to be settled which are then collectively 
called the " Eastern Question ", and thus confuse the public. Mr. 
Gladstone seems to have proposed so enormous a change that I 
cannot imagine it could have another effect than that of unsettling 
everything and putting nothing safe or durable in its stead. It 
must be very difficult for your Government to steer clear of all 
these dangers ; on the one side to promote peace, on the other 
to keep an ever-watchful eye on Russia, which is now more than 
ever necessary, and lastly to come to some radical cure and final 
settlement of a question which has so long been an open sore to 
Europe. The Russians can not be trusted ! It is they who urged on 
the Serbs, they who fought, and they who, it seems to me, are 
responsible for giving the Turks an opportunity of displaying 
their barbarity towards the so-called Christians who, I fear, only 
differ from the Turks in name though I am very sorry for them. 
Would it not be wise to settle beforehand how far we intend to allow 
the Russians to approach our frontier in India, and while we are 
on the best terms with them, declare once and for all that one 
stage further in that direction would be war ? Would it not prevent 
their attempting to annoy us in those quarters? and would it 
not be a very harmless measure ? 

A month later (October 23, 1876) she wrote : 

There seems to be a little pause in the state of Eastern affairs. 
What alarms me sometimes is the vague fear or feeling that Russia 

141 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1876 may get the better of everyone, and manage to get her own way 
in everything! Her own way in all things is not good for England's 
interests. Are people in England quite alive to all the danger ? . . . 
Would Russia attack the Turks if the English fleet were in the 
Black Sea and Austria and Germany stood aside ? ... Is there 
no fear of making it impossible to stop the Russians later if they 
are allowed to fight and conquer the Turks just as they please ? 
Do you not think that a great decision on the part of the English 
would stop their beginning a war, the end of which is impossible 
to foresee? Though one may heartily desire to see Turkish 
misrule cease in Europe and wish both the Christians and the 
Mussulmans a better Government than heretofore, one cannot 
wish to see Russia simply in possession of the country and 
Constantinople after a bloody war, and free to make difficulties 
for England whenever she chooses. 

One cannot defend the Turkish cause as a cause, or wish blood 
and money to be spent in supporting a Government alike so 
corrupt and inhumane, and which offers no guarantee of being 
able or willing to carry out reform. If the matter could be settled 
for the good of the Turkish population and those of the Princi- 
palities against the Turkish and Russian Governments, surely it 
would be the right thing ; but how ? 

Has Morier ever been heard on the subject? He was very strong 
on it in ' 53 and '54, when his excellent reports struck dear Papa 
so much! 

Bismarck's policy of conciliating Russia had under- 
gone no change since the Franco-German War, and Queen 
Victoria, writing to the Crown Princess on October 21, 
expressed the shrewd opinion that Russia's policy in the 
Near East, which aimed finally at the overlordship of the 
Balkans and the occupation of Constantinople, was due 
in no little measure to the support and tacit approval of 
Bismarck. On October 25, 1876, the Crown Princess, 
who appears to have misconceived Bismarck's policy, 
replied : 

I have just received your dear letter of the 2ist with many 
thanks. I have shewn it to Fritz and am to tell you from him 
142 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

what he thinks, as he supposes you will prefer having an English 1876 
letter to a German one and I write our own dear honest language 
to you better than he can. You say Germany is with Russia. What 
does all this mean after Prince Bismarck's offers, messages and 
promises? We have no precise information as to how Germany 
is supporting Russia, but from what we can gather from different 
well-informed sources we have perceived the German Govern- 
ment gradually leaning towards Russia and not towards England 
and Austria 1 It is sorely against Prince Bismarck's will and liking, 
I am sure, as he does not care for a Russian alliance ; but an alliance 
he must have, being in the disagreeable position of having always 
to be on his guard against France. This spring he would have 
given anything for a hearty response to his overtures 1 He wanted 
to know what British policy was going to be and he would have 
backed it up he got no answer, or only what was very vague 
so that he said to himself, as indeed all Germany does, " Oh! there 
is no use in reckoning on England or going with her ; she has no 
policy, will do nothing and will always hang back, so there is no 
help for it but to turn to Russia, though it be only a pis-aller 
for a better alliance, and one more congenial to us and more in 
harmony with our interests! Austria is too weak, too unsettled, 
in too shattered and precarious a state to be any use as an ally. 
The only strong Power willing to stand by Germany when she 
is in a pinch is Russia, therefore we must, whether we like it or 
no, keep on the best terms with her and serve her, so that she may 
serve us, as in 1870." Surely Prince Bismarck is not to be blamed 
for this ; it is only common prudence and good sense to make 
sure of having a strong friend when one is liable to be attacked 
any day! If Lord Derby had spoken out in the spring, and if the 
Berlin Memorandum had been accepted, matters would now stand 
differently. Bismarck wanted England alone to decide the Eastern 
Question, play the first part and have the beau role now taken 
by Russia, to my intense disgust. I think it is not too late now, 
to come to a satisfactory and close understanding with Prince 
Bismarck, as at any moment Russia may go even a step further 
than Germany can quietly agree to. 

I hope that if no peace is come to satisfactorily now, and the 
Russians occupy Servia and Montenegro, that then England will 
persuade Austria to occupy Bosnia, and England herself send Lord 
Napier at the head of the troops to occupy Constantinople, and the 

143 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1876 British fleet into the Black Sea. I am certain this would be the very 
best thing. There would be no war. Turkey would carry out the 
reforms which were enforced ; Germany could, I am sure, back up 
Austria and England, and Roumania, which is dying to be sup- 
ported by England and Austria, would aid to counterbalance any 
overweight of Russia. At last some arrangement could be come 
to which would be satisfactory and lasting! Fritz is so very strong 
on the matter, that he wished me to say all I could in support of 
this view. He has not seen Prince Bismarck lately. Could not a 
special letter, message, or person, though none could be so good 
as Lord Odo Russell, be despatched to Prince Bismarck ? 

It is a signal proof of the innate generosity of the 
Crown Princess that in spite of her previous suspicion of 
Bismarck she was now inclined to credit him with the 
highest motives. She believed that they were " simple and 
honest ", and on October 28 again wrote to her mother : 

Many thanks for your dear letters by messenger as to the 
Eastern question. I can only repeat what I said last time of Bis- 
marck's calculations and motives, as far as we are acquainted with 
them and can judge of them. I think they are quite simple and 
honest. I do not think that one can exactly say that Germany is 
assisting Russia, as we know for certain (z.e. through what Field- 
Marshal ManteufFel says) that the Emperor Alexander would make 
war tomorrow if he could be certain that Germany would " ihm 
den Sieg sichern *". This he will not obtain from Germany as far 
as we can learn. 

We saw a very nice and intelligent officer yesterday (our 
Military Attache at Vienna) who has been to Belgrade and in Servia 
lately. He gave us most interesting accounts. He says there was 
not an atom of enthusiasm for the war in Servia, that the people 
and their Sovereign were driven to it against their will, that the 
plan originated with Russia, and the party which pushed on the 
war, in Russia, was so strong that he did not think the Emperor 
Alexander could resist or follow his own inspirations, and thus 
the Russians could not stop the movement which has been so long 
fermenting and preparing. 

It would appear that the chief objection the Austrians have to 
144 




^/he brown Princess and Uri 
iSjb 



atn. 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

occupying Bosnia is that, as they have a profound distrust of Russia, 1 876 
they do not like acting in common with the Russians for fear of 
being afterwards asked by them to give up some Austrian territory 
to them, whereas in this respect they have nothing to fear from 
England or Germany. 

Oh dear what a complicated question it is, and how many new 
ones it raises on all sides! One does not see the end of it all! This 
same gentleman says that the Turkish infantry is very good, very 
well disciplined, brave and enduring excellent soldiers who do not 
even murmur at being kept five months without their pay. Their 
artillery and cavalry are said to be very bad indeed, and their 
fortresses not worth much. 

The British Government now pressed for an armis- 
tice, and put forward a policy of local self-government 
for the Turkish provinces in the Balkans. There was 
much negotiation about the duration of the armistice, 
and finally Russia, by a sudden ultimatum to the Porte 
on October 31, enforced its limitation to two months, 
though it was subsequently extended to March 1877, 
when peace was signed between Servia and Turkey. 

Meanwhile, the situation had undergone two import- 
ant changes. The Sultan Murad had proved incompetent, 
if not insane ; and a palace revolution had deposed him 
in favour of his brother Abdul Hamid. Moreover, in 
England, the force of the " Bulgarian atrocities " agitation 
had largely spent itself, and the danger of bringing 
Russia into the field was being realised. Russia now 
suggested that she should occupy Bulgaria and that 
Austria should occupy Bosnia, while the British fleet 
should come up to Constantinople in order to bring 
further pressure on the Porte. The scheme was rejected 
by Britain, but it was agreed that a conference of the 
powers should be held at Constantinople to seek a settle- 
ment of the question. Lord Salisbury, no friend to 

L 145 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1 876 Turkey, was appointed the representative of Great Britain. 
The acute differences between Great Britain and Russia 
were emphasised by Lord Beaconsfield's pronouncement 
at the Guildhall on Lord Mayor's Day, 1876, that, while 
England was essentially a non-aggressive power, yet her 
resources were such that " in a righteous cause England 
will commence a fight that will not end until right is 
done " ; while the Emperor Alexander stated at Moscow 
on the following day that, if he could not obtain the 
necessary guarantees from the Porte, he was determined 
to act independently. 

The Crown Princess, on this occasion an enthusiastic 
supporter of Bismarck, was eager to give the German 
point of view to her mother, to whom she wrote on 
November n : 

I really do not think it is fair to say " the great man " has 
behaved very badly. At least I see no proofs of it, or of an undue, 
or unfair, favouring of the Russians, and I see no obstacle, in him, 
to England's and Germany's going together, nor, I am sure, does 
he wish for one. 

The duplicity of the Russians increases from day to day, and 
no one can be a match for them, because no one possesses the art 
of saying a thing with so much aplomb and doing the very reverse. 
General Werder, who arrived two or three days ago with an auto- 
graph letter to the Emperor from the Emperor of Russia, said, 
quite simply and openly, that the Court were now going for five 
days to Moscow, that it was a most unusual and demonstrative 
measure ; but that Moscow was now the centre of the agitation for 
war, and that there would be great demonstrations there, to show 
the Emperor that he must still adopt more energetic measures. 
General "Werder, who is Russian to the backbone, made no secret 
of it that the Russians had no intention of having peace, that they 
could not stop where the matter now was, and that the warlike 
preparations were going on with great energy and rapidity. 

What can it all mean ? Evidently they now say, and personages 
even think, that is to say, the Emperor does, that they do not want 
I4 <5 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

Constantinople, but perhaps in a few weeks they will say " Cir- 1876 
cumstances have been stronger than we thought, and have forced 
us, etc. etc." 

I am certain they want to make tributary states of Roumania 
and Bulgaria, which will be as good as Russian, then they can 
cook up a fresh question whenever it suits them, as they raised 
this one, and wantonly pushed the Servians into a war. The next 
time, perhaps the Russians will find the opportunity for taking 
Constantinople better. The choice of Lord Salisbury seems to be 
an excellent one, as he is a clever, quick and energetic man. . . . 

On his way to the Conference, which began on 
December 12, 1876, Lord Salisbury visited in succession 
Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Rome. At Berlin he was wel- 
comed by the Emperor, the Crown Prince and Princess 
and Bismarck. In course of an interview with Bismarck 
Lord Salisbury learnt that the German Chancellor in- 
tended Germany to be neutral between Turkey and 
Russia. " Another argument in the same sense ", wrote 
Lord Salisbury to Lord Derby on November 25, 1876, 
" I draw from the assertions of the Crown Princess. She 
is shrewd, behind the scenes, and hates Bismarck like 
poison : and she said several times with much energy, 
* You may be quite sure that it is true that Bismarck 
wishes for peace *. Both she and the Crown Prince ex- 
pressed themselves anti-Russian." 1 From these inter- 
views Lord Salisbury came to the conclusion that while 
Bismarck wished for war between Russia and Turkey, 
which would diminish the fighting power of Russia, he 
dreaded a war between England and Russia because 
German neutrality would be difficult. 

The Conference met on December 23. Simultane- 
ously the new Sultan promulgated a liberal constitution. 

1 Life of Robert^ Marquis of Salisbury, by Lady Gwendolen 
Cecil, vol. ii. p. 99. 

147 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1877 Relying on this gesture and on the divisions between the 
powers, he successfully resisted their demands. A month 
later, on January 20, 1877, this impotent Conference was 
dissolved. 

Russia's action immediately after the abortive con- 
ference was puzzling. Whilst preparations were being 
made for war on Turkey, she professed to maintain the 
European concert, and in March, General Ignatieff, the 
Russian delegate at the Conference and Ambassador in 
Constantinople, began a series of visits to the capitals of 
Europe to explain the Tsar's readiness to continue his 
co-operation with the other powers. From Paris the 
Russian general and diplomatist proceeded on March 14 
to London, where he was hospitably received during his 
week's stay. Whilst Ignatieff was in Paris, the Crown 
Princess, unaware of his plans, wrote to her mother 
(March 10) : 

I am rather sorry IgnatiefT did not go to England ; it would 
perhaps have taken his vanity down a litde and it is always good 
and useful to hear what he has to say. If only all the Governments 
together would agree to what the Russians now want! It would 
not be a dangerous or compromising thing and would satisfy the 
Russians and in their eyes save their honour, so that they need 
not go to war it would save so many poor innocent creatures on 
both sides from being killed, and certainly [be] the best thing for 
the Christians in Turkey. The war once begun, no one can tell 
where it would stop, and who might not be drawn into it. I am 
so convinced that the fate of the world is now in the hands of 
Europe and that the guarantee asked for by the Russians could so 
easily be given, as it would be more or less a matter of form, an 
Ehrenrettung for the Russians who have got into a scrape, and 
no one acts contrary to their own interests in this case by helping 
them out. It would also be the best thing for the Turks, as it 
would save them from a ruinous war, and make them set about 
their reforms in good earnest, which of course they never will 
do unless they see that they must. This is also the Emperor's 
148 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

opinion and that of a distinguished Frenchman whom we saw the 1877 
other day. 

England was now quite willing to act with the other 
powers in their endeavour to reform Turkey, provided 
that Russia and Turkey, between whom war seemed 
probable, agreed to disarm. If that guarantee were forth- 
coming, England was prepared to urge anew on the Porte 
a joint protocol of domestic reform. 

Meanwhile, the British Ambassador at Constantinople 
had found himself in disagreement with the British Gov- 
ernment, and Lord Beaconsfield's choice for a successor 
fell on Austen Henry Layard, who had every sympathy 
with the government's vigorous policy. 

At this period Bismarck was ill, and deeply mortified 
by the decreasing support afforded in Germany to his 
domestic policy. Up to then the Chancellor's resignations 
had not been numerous, and the cry of "Wolf" still 
created alarm. On April 7, 1877, Lord Odo Russell 
wrote to Lord Derby : 

DEAR LORD DERBY I have told you in a despatch all about 
the crisis, which is simply that Bismarck is really nervous and in 
want of rest and the Emperor reluctant to part with him al- 
together. Besides physical ill-health, Bismarck is morally upset by 
the decreasing support his policy suffers from, on the part of the 
Emperor and of Parliament, which he attributes to the Empress's 
hostile influence on his Majesty, and to the Pope's influence on the 
Catholic Party in Parliament, instead of simply attributing it to his 
very disagreeable manner of dealing with his Sovereign and his 
supporters, and to the violence of his dealing with his opponents. 
"What he wants is the power to turn out his colleagues from the 
new Cabinet at his pleasure a power this Emperor will never 
concede to his Chancellor. At Court on Thursday last the Emperor 
told me he would give him as much leave as he pleased, but would 
not let him resign. The Empress told me Bismarck must be taught 
to obey his Sovereign. The Crown Prince told me he deplored the 
situation, but could not venture to interfere since his father never 

149 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1877 consulted him. The Crown Princess told me she could settle it all 
in five minutes if she had her own way. The Grand Duchess of 
Baden told me she could cry to see her father so worried at eighty. 
The Grand Duke of Baden told me he found Bismarck intractable. 
Princess Bismarck told me her husband's health was more precious 
to her than his post, and the Emperor could not expect him to 
commit suicide by working himself to death. Other well-informed 
people told me that Bismarck would probably accept leave and 
return to his office next winter as usual. No one will know much 
more about it until the German Parliament meets again, I imagine. 
The final signature of the Protocol has given great satisfaction to 
everyone at Berlin from the Emperor downwards. Peace is believed 
to be possible as far as Russia is concerned, but the attitude of 
Turkey does not yet inspire confidence, and the departure of the 
Turkish Envoy for Russia to settle about demobilisation is anxiously 
looked forward to. The Emperor told me on Thursday that he 
hoped Mr. Layard would soon be at Constantinople, as England 
alone could persuade the Porte to be reasonable and peaceful. I 
always thought Layard the right man for Turkey and am delighted 
at his appointment. I hope he will advise the Porte to pay their 
debts out of the money saved by demobilisation and persuade them 
to mend their ways, moral and material. 

The signature of the Protocol has placed us en regie with Europe 
and we can no longer be held responsible for the coming war, if the 
Turks will not accept the friendly counsels of the Powers, although 
I confess I do not see how any Government can stand the per- 
manent moral interference of six well-meaning friends without 
going mad 1 Job found three too many. 

All hopes of accommodation on such lines as these, 
however, were dispelled by Russia's declaration of war 
on Turkey on April 24, 1877. A week later (May 3) the 
Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

... I can well imagine how very anxious you must be about 
the Oriental question. That Russia has a purpose and makes the 
protection of the Christians her pretext is certain. Some very well- 
informed people, who know a great deal about the Russians, have 
told me that the Russians wanted the Dardanelles and nothing else 
upon which I replied " It is the very thing they will never get." 
150 



BISiMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

Whether the Emperor Alexander has been forced into this war 1877 
by a party, as Napoleon III. was into the last war, I cannot quite 
make out. I am only so afraid that Gortchakoff, Ignatieff, and other 
candid statesmen of this kind, are urging King Victor Emanuel to 
try and get a part of the Italian Tyrol from the Austrians, and the 
Austrians would fight for that to the last. 

I do trust this would not he ; the bulk of the Italians would 
much dislike this, as they have so many interests in the East, 
commerce, etc. . . . and their merchants are important people in 
Turkey, and in all the East and the Levant, where their tongue is 
spoken! If there be a means of preventing the Russians from 
taking what they must not have, by the combination of all the 
other Powers together, and without the other Powers fighting, it 
would be the best thing. If France, Germany, Austria, England 
and Italy were to say together : you shall not have the Dardanellesl 
But, of course, I do not know how that could be done. 

There seems to be no other preventive to a great conflagration 
than a firm combination of the other Powers, and that is quite 
easy for England to obtain. 

Poor Marie, 1 how wretched for her all that is! I feel so sorry 
for her ; and poor AfRe 2 must be very unhappy too. 

During Lord Salisbury's visit to Berlin in November 
1876 Bismarck had suggested to him that England should 
occupy Egypt, but the proposal met with short shrift from 
Disraeli, who " didn't see how it would benefit us ", 
especially " if Russia possessed Constantinople ". Bis- 
marck, still keen to embroil England with France, now 
made the same suggestion to the Crown Princess, who 
promptly wrote to her mother (July n, 1877) : 

The Oriental war is much talked of everywhere ; all lovers of 
England are so anxious that this opportunity should not pass by, 
of gaining a firm footing in Egypt! It would be such an essential, 
wise, useful thing. Perhaps you remember how pleased all who 
wish England well were, when the shares of the Suez Canal were 
bought, because everybody thought it was the first step towards 

1 The Duchess of Edinburgh. 2 The Duke of Edinburgh. 

151 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1877 what appears the wisest policy in the real interest of England, and 
her rule in India. No one can understand why the present Cabinet 
hesitate so long to take a step which seems so evident an advantage, 
and which England would often regret later, should the present 
opportunity be missed. ... I must say I devoutly hope and pray 
that Egypt may be ours, as I foresee so much good from such a 
change, both for the unhappy ill-used population who deserve 
better government, better masters and better treatment, and for 
the development of agriculture, of trade ; commerce then will 
open up many a new source of riches, and the land is so fertile. I 
think England has a great mission there, and a firm future would 
be secured to Egypt itself. How I wish this could be done in 
your reign! Who can it harm ? 

I hear some people in England think that Prince Bismarck has 
an arriere-pensee when he expresses his conviction that England 
ought to take Egypt He has no other arriere-pensee, but that he 
considers a strong England of great use in Europe, and one can 
only rejoice that he thinks and feels so. As to a wish to annex 
Holland, and let France take Belgium, I assure you that it is 
nothing but a myth^ and a very ridiculous one. Everybody who 
knows the state of things here thoroughly, knows that nobody of 
importance ever entertained so wild and crazy an idea. . . 

Queen Victoria,, before replying, sent the letter on to 
Lord Beaconsfield, who commented (July 16) that the 
letter " might have been dictated by Prince Bismarck. If 
the Queen of England wishes to undertake the govern- 
ment of Egypt, Her Majesty does not require the sugges- 
tion, or permission, of Prince Bismarck. At this moment 
Lord Beaconsfield understands that there is an offer from 
the Porte to sell its suzerainty of Egypt, Crete and Cyprus 
to Your Majesty. It has not been formally placed before 
the Foreign Office, but of the fact there is no doubt." 

The following day Queen Victoria replied to the 
Crown Princess : 

... I will now answer your letter of the nth, relative to 
Egypt, the proposal about which coming from you has indeed sur- 

152 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

prised me very much, and seems to me Bismarck's view. Neither 1877 
Turkey or Egypt have done anything to offend us. Why should we 
make a wanton aggression, such as the taking of Egypt would be ? 
It is not our custom to annex countries (as it is in some others) unless 
we are obliged, and forced to do so, as in the case of the Transvaal 
Republic. Prince Bismarck would probably like us to seize Egypt, 
as it would be giving a great slap in the face of France, and be 
taking a mean advantage of her inability to protest. It would be a 
most greedy action. I own I catit for a moment understand your 
suggesting it. What we intend to do we shall do without Prince 
Bismarck's permission, for he has repeatedly mentioned it to Lord 
Odo Russell. Buying the Suez shares is quite another thing. That 
was more or less a commercial transaction. How can we protest 
against Russia s doings, if we do the same ourselves ? 

Four days later the Crown Princess replied : 

... I am very sorry I was so misunderstood about Egypt. 
Of course I did not mean that a " wanton aggression " on an un- 
offending friend should be made, nor an annexation; but that 
virtually England's influence should be paramount there (under 
one form or another) both for the benefit of England's interests 
and for the happiness of an oppressed and unfortunate people. 
This wish has been one which many many English, both military 
men and others, have entertained before this war was thought of, 
and I think that they certainly did not think so because it was a 
" view of Bismarck's", any more than / did! How and when 
such a thing could come to pass, is, of course, quite another thing. 
That English influence should be stronger in the East than Russian 
seems to me desirable in more than one way, and any distrust of 
Prince Bismarck (should he share this opinion) would not make 
me change my view of the subject. . . . 

Events in the Balkans now again claimed all attention. 
The dramatic progress of the Russian troops towards 
Constantinople received in July an almost miraculous 
check by the heroic resistance at Plevna of a Turkish 
army under Osman Pasha. The world was astounded at 
this sudden recovering of " the sick man of Europe ", and 

153 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1877 Russia was now in a dilemma. To go forward was im- 
possible whilst Osman Pasha stood barring the way, and 
honour would not permit a retreat On October 19, 
1877, the Crown Prince wrote to Queen Victoria : 

... It is with a feeling of horror that I notice the approach of 
winter whilst the thinned armies of Russia and Turkey are still 
opposed to each other, looking forward with eagerness to a decisive 
battle. 

This dreadful war, planned in a spirit of haughtiness and decided 
upon for a long time, impresses everyone with the importance of 
two failings, Le. to be in the wrong and to underrate the strength of 
one*s adversary* 

The Russians would not forgive Germany the successes in great 
wars and the re-establishment of our national power ; they looked 
out therefore for an opportunity to gain easy victories and to revive 
the belief in the " nimbus " of Russian strength. This was to my 
fullest belief the chief motive which led to the sowing of so much 
mischief that at length the war, for which long preparations had 
been made, became inevitable in spite of the Emperor's own will. 
" Slavs *' and " Christians " are in this question only the means to 
serve a totally different end and object. 

And now the poor Czar, who is in truth a lover of peace, is 
placed in the midst of his troops, without commanding them ; he 
must witness, for months, the most dreadful carnage without obtain- 
ing success ; he is unable to conclude peace, because the honour of 
the Russian arms will not allow it. 

It may be assumed that quite in the end the Russian superiority 
of numbers and resources generally will enable them to get the 
better of the Turks, but I am at a loss to think what sort of com- 
pensation they may find for their horrible losses. 

Since I have been fated to witness three wars, I feel myself a 
real horror whenever I hear of fresh campaigns, and it requires 
truly an effort on my part to hear, and study, the details of the war 
reports. "When we ourselves had to fight, our enemies were, to the 
greatest part, civilised people who in spite of wild passions being 
let loose were always anxious to observe the precepts of humanity, 
but here in the East, the contending forces are led by fanaticism and 
love of destruction combined with religious infatuation. 

154 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, jgyi-iSyS 

The Turks it must be said stand up for the defence of their 1877 
own homes; and this fact enlists for their cause a good deal of sym- 
pathy which otherwise they would not deserve. Having looked 
forward, with perfect resignation, to the collapse of their domina- 
tion in Europe the Turks themselves are struck by their unfore- 
seen successes, as well as the rest of the world. 

Osman Pasha's brilliant resistance of five months came 
to an end on December 10, and with the fall of Plevna 
the Russians had a clear road to Constantinople with 
scarcely a barrier in the way. British feeling against 
Russia now rose to fever heat, and the " Jingo " cry for 
war rang through the country. 

Servia, elated at the Russian success, again declared 
war on Turkey (December 14, 1877), and it seemed as if 
Gladstone's fiery demand that the Turk should be swept 
" bag and baggage " from Europe was like to be accom- 
plished by Russia. On December 17 the Crown Princess 
wrote to Queen Victoria : 

. . , What do you say to the Servians rising now that Turkey 
is in such distress! The very thought of the cruel way in which 
Turkey has been fallen upon, forced into war and half crushed, 
for no other purpose and no other reason than the Russian jealousy 
of German military success during the last war, and to gratify 
Russian ambition and vanity, makes one quite ill! It seems so 
unjust! 

I wonder whether poor Osman Pasha is taken great care of 
and has all his wants ; he behaved so heroically. The Turkish 
government seem as unwise as possible and hamper the army in 
every way. 

The prospect of Constantinople being occupied by 
the Russians was one that caused alarm on many sides, 
and to the demand that England should intervene the 
Crown Princess added her voice. On December 19 she 
wrote to Queen Victoria : 

... As regards politics what can one say! Oh! if I could 

155 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1877 only see you for one half-hour to say what fills my heart and soul! 
//"England does not assert herself powerfully she will do herself 
a harm which perhaps people living in happy England hardly can 
realise! Ridicule and contempt England can very well stand and 
laugh at the ignorance of the benighted people that know no 
better; but England cannot afford, or rather ought not, to lose 
her position in Europe. The feeling is so strong now abroad that 
England is quite powerless, has no army, a fleet that is no use, 
because naval battles are past, has no statesmen, and cares for 
nothing more than making money, because she is too weak to have 
a will, and if she had one, she has no power of enforcing it! How 
I do long for one good roar of the British Lion from the housetops 
and for the thunder of a British broadside! God knows I have seen 
enough of war, to know how horrible, how wicked, how shocking 
it is, and how worse than sinful those who bring it on without a 
reason, and plunge thousands into misery and despair! But are 
not dignity, Honour, and one's reputation things for which a nation, 
like an individual, must be ready to sacrifice ease, wealth, and even 
blood and life itself! 

My experience of politics and things in general on the continent, 
and a careful observation of them, has led mo. to the/rm conviction 
that England is far in advance of all other countries in the scale 
of civilisation and progress, the only one that understands Liberty 
and possesses Liberty, the only one that understands true progress, 
that can civilise and colonise far distant lands, that can develop 
commerce and consequently prosperity, the only really happy, the 
only really free, and, above all, the only really humane country, that 
will give so readily, so generously, and so wisely to alleviate 
suffering, be it ever so far off from sight! Surely then for the good 
of us all, for the good of the world, and not only of Europe, England 
should assert herself, make herself be listened to! 

In this Turkish and Russian war, of course there are two 
opinions everywherel One wishes Turkey to disappear and therefore 
will let Russia do the work of annihilation ; the other thinks a 
nation, however corruptly and badly governed, ought not to be 
wiped out by one power, without the others being heard! To 
invite Turkey to reform her ways, and force her to do so, would 
have been better than making war in this shameful way. But now 
for Russia and Turkey to make a separate peace, without England 
being even consulted I should think a downright insult and a 

156 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

fatal blow to English interests! If England suffer in her prestige, 1877 
vis-a-vis of Europe, what does she in the eyes of Oriental nations ! ! 
and what will the 80 millions of fighting men England's subjects 
in India think, if the Mother country stirs not a finger now!! 

There is a school in England that thinks she should not pretend 
to be a great Power, but subside into one of a second order and 
interfere no more in wars, etc. This may be true, but then England 
ought not to possess half -the world, as she does now\ and woe 
to the world when England abdicates the leadership and the pre- 
eminence as the champion of Liberty and progress! 

England can surely have troops enough from India that can 
fight better than the Turks even, and are a match for any number 
of Russians! 

If Russia be allowed, she will become the lane of the world! 
She must have some one Power to keep her in check, she does not 
represent Liberty, progress, enlightenment, humaneness and civilisa- 
tion, but if she got too strong, and a man like the old Napoleon 
ever were born there, she would indeed be a terrible danger. That 
is the only power to fear, not poor Germany that can never, or ought 
never to grow out of her own confines. 

We hear that the Servians have been pressed very hard by the 
Russians to assist, and that Charles of Roumania does not wish 
to carry on the war any farther! 

I suppose British ships could prevent Batoum being taken. I 
hope, dearest Mama, you will burn this immediately and not be 
angry with me for saying all this so openly ; I can say it to no 
one else! 

I hear everybody here is very Russian ; we did not find it so on 
the Rhine. I avoid the subject here with everyone! I cannot help 
feeling so much for Alfred and Marie, it must be so painful for 
them! 

I cannot understand the Times ; it seems to me to take a strange 
view of things. How much I think of you and what your feelings 
must be throughout! 

Prince Bismarck has become a myth, he is neither seen nor 
heard of. 

The fortunes of Turkey had now become a matter of 
party politics in England, and Lord Beaconsfield, whose 
sympathy with the Turks was no secret, decided that 

157 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

2878 England should come to Turkey's rescue : a policy that 
by no means pleased the whole of the conservative party. 
The division of opinion in the Cabinet was notorious, 
and when it was decided to send the British fleet to pro- 
tect Constantinople, the order was cancelled the following 
day. Lord Derby disliked the whole policy, and it was 
said that he and Lord Carnarvon intended to resign. On 
January 25 the Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

... As to politics, was ever anything more distressing! The 
Russians I have no fit word for them are using every endeavour 
to make the world believe that the armistice has only been pre- 
vented by the English intervention, and that England is responsible 
for all the bloodshed. They are evidently pushing on to Con- 
stantinople as hard as they can. The leading article in the Daily 
Telegraph of the 21 st I think exactly hit upon the truth I What 
terrible complications! "We know for certain that the Greeks have 
had direct and peremptory orders to rise and fight those unhappy 
Turks these wretched Servians the same. 

My Father-in-law is more Russian than can be described, and 
though the generality of the officers of the Guard are so too, there 
are many in Germany and even here, who dislike and distrust the 
Russians with all their heart and grieve at the success of their false 
lying policy and their ambitions and violent schemes. The Empress 
and I often sit and lament. The accusations of the Russian press 
against England are really in language of a violence which is 
beyond all bounds. ... If only the British fleet went to Con- 
stantinople, and an armed force were sent to Gallipoli and Con- 
stantinople and ships to the Dardanelles, it would stop the Russians, 
who seem to reckon on England's doing nothing, and who grow 
more daring and insolent day by day! I am almost certain that 
in this way they would be obliged to desist from going to Con- 
stantinople, which they at present intend to do. We (England) 
have still time to get there before them, still in our hands to 
enforce a fair peace, but it is the very last hour, and in a few days 
it will be too late, and ever will England regret it when Russia 
has completely absorbed Turkey, and then at any moment can 
make an alliance with the French and seize upon the Suez Canal 
and stop our road to India! 

158 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

I feel sure that if the fleet had only been sent to Constantinople 1878 
directly after Plevna, the Russians would have stopped short and 
many a poor wretch be still alive, who has died a cruel death. If 
a force under Lord Napier were landed in Constantinople in a 
short while we could settle the terms of peace much easier, and 
I think that not a drop of English blood would be shed, nor one 
precious life lost, because our presence and our firmness would 
bring the Russians to their senses. 

We have just heard a report that Lord Derby and Lord Car- 
narvon are going to resign, but of course we do not know whether 
it is founded! Anything that means action and decided and prompt 
action is good at this present critical time, and anything that is 
the reverse I cannot but regret, as we shall be damaging our 
interests in a terrible way. 

Here I suppose they will do nothing whatever happens. I feel 
so much for you in this time of anxiety without dear Papa at 
your side to share the work and the responsibility and help you 
in every way! But you have clearly seen where the danger was 
from the beginning, and I hope will have the satisfaction of seeing 
the right course taken and Europe freed from the illusion that 
England will not and cannot stir a finger in any question, any 
more, but has abdicated her former position altogether. 

Five days later the Princess, now, as she wrote, " in a 
perpetually pugilistic frame of mind", heard of the 
counter order to the British fleet at Malta, and promptly 
wrote (January 30) : 

... As to politics I am in horror and despair! The counter 
order to the fleet has had such a deplorable effect and all the 
enemies of England laugh and rub their hands and are delighted, 
whereas the friends of England are convinced that Russia is telling 
fresh lies and playing fresh tricks, that the armistice is all humbug, 
that they are pressing on to Constantinople and not telling England 
the truth about the terms of peace! I am afraid this is very likely. 
IgnatiefF, of course, behaves as badly as possible, Prince Reuss, 
in his way, also. Count Schuvaloff appears to be anxious to con- 
ciliate and do his best. Lord Augustus Lofrus seems to be alive 
to Russia's designs, and Count Munster uses every endeavour to 
make English policy appear in its very best light, at which the 

159 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1878 Emperor is very very angry (and many others) and think him " zu 
Englisch" and anti-Russian. Austria's game I cannot penetrate. 
The Austrian press has been very rude and bitter against England 
and the Russian press knows no bounds in its abuse of England. 

Here there is a story that the British fleet turned back from 
the Dardanelles, because one Turkish gun was fired, and the 
Turks will not have the English! Of course we know how false 
that is. 

Poor Sadullah Bey said to me last night, at the Court Ball 
when I could not help telling him how sorry I felt for him and his 
countrymen " Notre seul espoir est 1'Angleterre *'. The more I 
hear and the more time passes, the more I regret the English fleet 
and British troops not being at Constantinople and Gallipoli and 
the Dardanelles long before this! I feel sure it would have 
frightened the Russians into their senses, and made them amenable, 
if not to reason yet to the demand of fairer terms of peace ; 
whereas now they will please themselves. 

I do not like to reproach the peace party in England with want 
of patriotism and with great selfishness and I am certain they 
have not an idea of the harm they are doing their country abroad. 
It is not only that they cause British policy to be called weak, 
vacillating and bungling, but it gives a totally wrong impression 
of England's power and England's regard for her own dignity 
and interests! 

I hope I am not very wrong in saying all this, but as a devoted 
and loyal British heart, mine feels bitterly the taunts and sneers 
and the tone which people dare to assume about a country so 
vastly superior to all others in every sense, and which consequently 
ought to take the lead and make Itself listened to. 

I know you feel all this and must be troubled and anxious 
beyond measure. 

I am perpetually in a pugilistic frame of mind, as I have to 
hear and read so much which is hardly bearable, because one 
cannot have the satisfaction of knocking somebody down. 

Three weeks later, in February 1878, the Crown Prin- 
cess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

. . . Things look very bad indeed in politics. Alas! the 
Russians think themselves a match for the English twice over, but 
160 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

not for England and an ally, and to get this ally seems to me so im- 1878 
portant! Whether the Austrians are to be relied on is so doubtful 
and difficult to know! Prince Bismarck has, however, no wish 
whatever to see everyone quarrelling as you say, and on the con- 
trary he must not quarrel with Russia, but can only regret any- 
thing that strengthens her or weakens England's power. This is 
self-evident and needs no explanation, he would be a madman to 
wish anything else. I fancy he is of opinion that it is the worst 
moment for England to go to war, and that the time is past, when 
it would have been useful and likely to lead to a result, i.e. to stop 
Russia's proceedings, which Austria and England might have done 
some time ago ! . . . 

Meanwhile, on February 13, the order to the British 
fleet at Malta to proceed to Constantinople was repeated, 
and this time carried into effect, but five days later it was 
ordered to leave Constantinople for a station thirty-five 
miles south of the city. The Treaty of San Stefano was 
signed on March 3, 1878, after an armistice had been 
concluded, and by its articles Servia was declared inde- 
pendent and Bulgaria created an autonomous principality 
under the sphere of Russian influence. 

Three weeks later Lord Derby, who had always been 
out of sympathy with the Government policy, resigned, 
and was succeeded by Lord Salisbury. British policy, no 
longer directed by a divided Cabinet, was galvanised into 
strong action, and Lord Salisbury not only demanded in 
a masterly circular that the Treaty of San Stefano should 
be submitted to the judgment of Europe, but showed he 
was in earnest by announcing that 7000 Indian troops 
were under orders for Malta. Although naturally Russia 
strongly objected, the other European powers supported 
Lord Salisbury's proposal and after much negotiation a 
conference was agreed to. The news of Lord Derby's 
resignation and the terms of Lord Salisbury's circular to 
M 161 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1878 the powers elated the Crown Princess, and to her mother 
she wrote on April 5 : 

Indeed since Lord Derby's resignation and Lord Salisbury's 
Circular, one can hold up one's head again, and no longer feel 
oppressed by the weight of anxiety and misgiving about what 
may be coming! Now we know that England has a policy, and 
that it is a clear and right one, and this has already changed the 
aspect of the whole question. 

Except amongst the sworn friends of Russia, I think there is 
universal approval of England's step and England's views, and 
everywhere a feeling of relief that at last England should have come 
forward and spoken up. In Austria they are delighted, and what 
the unfortunate Turks and other principalities must feel, I can well 
imagine! What a blessing for them all to feel that their fates are not 
to be settled by Russia alone, whose treacherous behaviour to them 
all has opened their eyes as to the nature of Russia's aims. Neither 
England nor Austria can be lent on war; but they must not 
shrink from it, if it be forced upon them. 

I cannot help thinking that the Russians will draw back and 
give way, and that the whole may yet be satisfactorily settled 
without a war. 

I cannot help congratulating you on the turn affairs have taken. 
How much easier you must feel now. Poor Lord Derby seems 
to have been treated with so much kindness and consideration, 
that one cannot pity him! Oh, how much he has to answer for, 
and how vast is the harm his indecision did! ... 

I wish you could see the articles of the Augslurger Allgemeine 
Zeitung) the Kolnische Zeitung and the Journal des Delats just 
now, as it is interesting to see how good and beneficial an effect 
Lord Salisbury's Circular has had. . . . 

In May the Powers accepted Bismarck's offer to act 
as "honest broker ", and preparations were made to 
summon the Congress of Berlin. 

During the preliminary discussions that took place 
before the Congress met, the main points were agreed to. 
Russia consented to divide the big Bulgaria of the San 
162 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

Stefano Treaty into two provinces, and Austria gave 1878 
her consent on the condition she should be allowed to 
occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina. The way was now 
clear for Bismarck to issue the formal invitations for the 
Congress of Berlin, and on Sunday, June 2, 1878, the 
German Ambassador in London, Count Munster, handed 
to the Foreign Secretary, Lord Salisbury, at the latter's 
house at Hatfield, Prince Bismarck's official invitation to 
Great Britain to take part in the Berlin Congress on 
June 13. The chief guests under the Foreign Secretary's 
roof at that moment happened to be the Crown Prince 
and Princess of Germany, who had come over from 
Marlborough House, where they were returning the visit 
which the Prince and Princess of Wales had paid them at 
Potsdam earlier in the year. The tranquil feeling which 
the invitation evoked was, however, rudely shattered 
within a few hours by the arrival of news of the attempted 
assassination of the Crown Prince's father, Emperor 
William I. The Crown Prince and Princess at once 
left for Germany. The Emperor proved to be severely, 
though not fatally, wounded, and the Crown Prince on 
reaching Berlin was invested with the Regency of the 
German Empire. It was while the Crown Prince exer- 
cised this responsibility that the Congress of Berlin 
performed its work. The Crown Prince's liberal aspira- 
tions had little opportunity of practical exercise during 
his short term of power, and the potent will of Prince 
Bismarck, who resolutely clung to office, remained in the 
ascendant. 

By July 13 the Congress of Berlin had concluded its 
labours. Heavy work had fallen on the shoulders of Lord 
Beaconsfield, England's chief envoy, who had many op- 
portunities of meeting the Crown Princess. On the day 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1878 on which the Congress dissolved, the Crown Princess 
wrote to Queen Victoria : 

The Congress has ended its labours! I am only so afraid that 
the hurry to get over the work has been too great, and that the 
durability may suffer ; it has been driven on with such desperate 
haste by Prince Bismarck, and that is not good! These matters 
are too serious to stand a hasty treatment. Nobody can rejoice 
more heartily and sincerely than I do at the Treaty with Turkey, 
and the occupation of the Isle of Cyprus! Amongst all friends of 
England this has produced the very best impression, and many of 
the German newspapers have praised the measure very much. 

I think it will be excellent, and trust the once so flourishing 
island will become so again, and that it may be a means of making 
the poor Turks govern better and get their unhappy devastated 
country into better order, and be a wholesome check to the 
Russians who will feel that they are watched, and cannot " get up " 
another war as they have done this. 

I am sure you too must feel happy and relieved that it has all 
ended so ; if England is known to be ever vigilant and ever on 
the alert, and determined NOT to be trifled with, and has all her 
means ready at hand, her forces, etc., the peace of Europe will 
not, and cannot be disturbed again so soon ! It has been a capital 
thing that the Foreign Ministers of different nations have made 
each other's acquaintance, it will make written communication a 
very different thing in future I Prince Bismarck is much struck 
and pleased with Lord Beaconsfield. 

Just before the Congress dissolved, Lord Beaconsfield 
wrote and told the Prince of Wales of the secret arrange- 
ment by which Britain undertook the defence of the re- 
maining Asiatic dominions of the Porte and was allowed to 
occupy Cyprus, while the Sultan promised to give effect 
to the necessary reforms for the protection of Christians. 
" England ", die Prime Minister wrote, " enters into 
a defensive alliance with Turkey as respects all her 
Asiatic dominions, and with the consent of the Sultan we 
occupy the island of Cyprus. It is the key of Asia, and 
164 



BISMARCK AND RUSSIA, 1871-1878 

is near to Egypt. Malta is too far for a military base for 1878 
these purposes." l 

The Anglo-Turkish Convention details of which 
were published two days after Lord Beaconsfield sent 
the Prince of Wales the news of it although it dis- 
concerted the friends of France, was warmly welcomed 
by the Crown Princess, who wrote to her mother on 
July 1 6 : 

I am all impatience to hear from you after the event of the 
Turko-English Convention and the occupation of Cyprus. I think 
it such a great event, and as I already wrote, one which must give 
pleasure to all friends of England I Lord Beaconsfield has indeed 
won laurels, made himself a name, and before all restored to his 
country the prestige of power and dignity it had so lost on the 
continent, thanks to Lord Derby and Mr. Gladstone. You must 
feel intense gratification after all the anxiety and worry you went 
through! I was very sorry to take leave of Lord Beaconsfield, who 
certainly has a great charm when one sees more of him, and of 
Lord Salisbury, who is such a truly amiable man! The others, alas, 
I saw little or nothing of! SchuvalorT is much pleased at the 
result of the Congress. Prince Gortschakoff not at all. The 
Roumanians went away deeply disappointed and dejected but I 
do not see how anything else could have been obtained for them 
after they had once placed their fate in Russia's hands! I was 
very glad to see Sir Henry Elliot, whom I had not seen since 
1857 

The Emperor looks very well, but he is still weak and the 
doctors will not fix a day for letting him go out or move here, 
etc. . . . They leave it to him, and I think it such a pity, for he 
is not the least inclined to leave Berlin, and his strength will never 
increase here. 

I think the Empress looking well ; but I hope she will be able 
to return to Baden and her cure soon! 2 

Within a few months the Emperor was well enough to 

1 Sir S. Lee, Life of King Edward, vol. i. p. 437. 

2 Partly published in Buckle and Monypenny's Life of Disraeli, 
vol. vi. pp. 344-345- 

I6 5 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1878 resume the duties of his office, and on December 5, 1878, 
the Crown Prince relinquished the Regency. Nine years 
later he was to take up the full burden of sovereignty on 
the death of his veteran father, but it was during these 
short six months alone that the Crown Prince really 
tasted the joys of ruling. 



166 



CHAPTER VI 

THE CROWN PRINCESS AND HER FAMILY 

HOWEVER pressing affairs of state may be, however 1878 
dramatic and enthralling the events through which a 
nation is passing, the main interests of a wife and mother 
are the affairs of her family, and to this rule the Crown 
Princess was no exception. Not only towards her husband 
and children did she show every sign of loving affection, 
but towards her brothers and sisters and their children 
she displayed an equal depth of feeling. Her letters are 
full of tender references to this or that niece or nephew, 
and nothing interested her so much as the love affair or 
wedding of any one of her numerous relatives. It was 
thus with peculiar happiness that she welcomed to Berlin, 
in the February of 1878, her brothers, the Prince of Wales 
and the Duke of Connaught, on the occasion of a double 
marriage in the German royal family. The first was 'that 
of the second daughter of the Emperor's nephew, Prince 
Frederick Charles of Prussia, to Frederick Augustus, the 
heir to the Grand Duke of Oldenburg. But even more 
interesting to the Crown Princess and her brothers and 
sisters was the marriage of the Princess's eldest daughter, 
the Princess Charlotte of Prussia, to the hereditary Prince 
Bernhard of Saxe-Meiningen. The double wedding was 
celebrated on February 18, 1878, with an exhausting 
ceremonial that lasted more than six hours. 

167 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1878 The Emperor [wrote the Prince of Wales to Queen Victoria 
on February 20] is looking wonderfully well, and in a few days 
he will be eighty-two. Vicky and Fritz are most blooming. It is 
impossible to find two nicer boys than William and Henry, and 
they are continually with us, for Fritz and Vicky have so much to 
do. Dear little Charlotte looked charming at the wedding, like a 
fresh little rose. 1 

That same day the Crown Princess wrote to Queen 
Victoria : 

I begin my letter this morning to finish it tomorrow morning, 
if I possibly canl I have just received your very dear letter, for 
which so many thanks, as well as the beautiful locket, which will 
be so very precious to me, especially as a sign of your being here 
with us in thought today. I feel very low, as you can imagine, 
and try not to think of it all! Charlotte is quite unconcerned, and 
very happy, especially delighted to see Bertie and Arthur. How 
lovely the locket is, and the Angel on it, and how nice to have 
their two photos inside! This kind and charming gift gives me 
so much pleasure! You asked yesterday by telegraph whether 
the young people go to Potsdam tonight. It is impossible and 
would be too fatiguing for them, as the wedding is so late in the 
evening, and the Fetes begin tomorrow and continue till Saturday, 
so they will live at the Schloss in an apartment prepared for them, 
which is very handsome, and which I have tried to make as com- 
fortable as possible! Yesterday there were a great many arrivals, 
and there was also the signing of the wedding contract. The 
other Brautpaar are not looking at all well, Elizabeth 2 is so thin 
and pale and feels leaving her home very much, though it was 
a wretchedly uncomfortable one. Still the idea of going off to 
Oldenburg seems to make her very sad. I believe it is a very ugly 
and very dull place, and neither the Grand Duke nor the Grand 
Duchess is very attractive. 

To this letter the Princess added a long postscript 
the next morning, which ran : 

I have got up, beloved Mama, to finish my letter to you, as last 

1 Sir Sidney Lee, Life of King Edward TIL vol. i. pp. 431-432. 

2 Daughter of Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia. 
168 



THE CROWN PRINCESS AND HER FAMILY 

night at 12 when I reached my room I felt so upset and miserable 1878 
that I should only have written nonsense. How your dear tele- 
grams touched me I cannot say! I knew your thoughts would be 
with us. ... At 4 in the afternoon the dressing began, and as I 
dressed Charlotte while I was dressing myself it was rather a long 
and rambling business. She really looked very pretty in the silver 
moire train, the lace, the orange and myrtle and the veil (dangerous 
innovations for here) but they were all very well taken by the 
Emperor and Empress! For the manage civil which took place 
in our drawing room there were heaps of people, such as did 
not wish to go to the Schloss. Herr von Schleinitz's address 
to the young couple was very fine, touching and impressive! 
After this the signing was done and they were married. Charlotte 
said she felt quite light and happy now it was over and would 
not mind the rest of the ceremonies at the Schloss ! I then led her 
downstairs and drove off with her in a carriage with eight horses 
and all the grooms carrying torches! At the Schloss all the cere- 
monies went off according to the programme you have seen! It 
was very very long, very hot, very tiring, and almost too serious, 
solemn and heavy for a wedding, but so it always is here. After 
the Fackeltan^ * I took her to her room after the Crown had been 
taken off, I helped her to undress and get ready for going to bed, 
and with an aching heart left her, no more mine now, to care for 
and watch and take care of, but another's, and that is a hard wrench 
for a mother. With pangs of pain we bring them into this world, 
with bitter pain we resign them to others for life, to independence 
and to shift for themselves. We bore the one for their sakes 
and with pleasure and so must we the other. 

When I came back last night and looked into her little empty 
room and empty bed where every night I have kissed her 
before lying down myself I felt very miserable. However it must 
be so and she looks very happy and shed not a tear yesterday, 
and Bernhard dotes upon her. ... I am sure she is thankful 
the wedding ceremony is over! It all went off very well we may 
say, and that is a thing to be thankful for. How we missed you 
and how I thought of adored Papa and Grandmama and Aunt 
Feodor and all beloved ones whose race is won and who rest in 

1 Torchdance in which the Bride and Bridegroom dance with 
every member of the Royal Family in turn. 

169 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1878 peace and who will be missing to the end of our days! "What a 
happiness that Bertie and Arthur were here! and how glad I am 
that Leopold of Belgium and Marie, Uncle Ernest and Philippe 
Coburg were there. . . . 

I have thought more of you than ever in my life and more than 
of anyone else ! Mothers do not lose their daughters if all love 
their mothers as much as I do you. 

Three days later (February 22) the Crown Princess 
wrote to Queen Victoria : 

I am really half dead with fatigue and feel most wretched, but 
am beyond measure distressed at not having written to you every 
day, as I ought to have done, but which was perfectly impossible! 

The first few days were terrible, when I saw Charlotte come in 
with Bernhard, and no longer stand by me, but take her place by 
the side of all the married Princesses and leave again with him 
without hardly being able to say Good-night to me! Then going 
home from parties without her, and not knowing what she is 
about ... is a dreadful thing to get accustomed to, but now that 
I see her so happy and merry and gay, and looking blooming and 
enjoying herself, that feeling is beginning to wear off with me. 
I think it is inhuman to give all these fetes for the poor young 
people and the exhausted and agitated Mamas. But, however, this 
evening is the last, thank God. Charlotte has been looking very 
pretty in all her new things, and Bernhard seems so happy. The 
Duke of Meiningen has quite softened and has become very 
amiable, and delighted with Charlotte who is quite taken with his 
goodness, while Bernhard's kind heart has melted towards his Papa 
which I am very glad of! Charlotte, though looking very well 
and looking blooming, has fainted three times from the heat of 
the rooms, to which she has never been accustomed. Tomorrow 
our dear young people move off to Potsdam and into their sweet 
little house in which I trust they will be very happy! It seems 
so funny to me when people talk of my Frau Tocher. To think 
of my becoming so venerable! 

The Emperor and Empress are looking particularly well and 
are most kind and sympathising! All the guests are in the high- 
est good humour, and I never saw an assembly of Princes and 
Princesses and relations go off so well and harmoniously. The 
public too are in the best of humour and most civil to Bertie 
170 



THE CROWN PRINCESS AND HER FAMILY 

and to Leopold and Marie i Bertie and Arthur have the greatest 1878 
" success " and are thought so charming and amiable by every- 
one. Your not being here is universally regretted! I made Count 
SeckendorfT write about the wedding and told him also to say that 
Bertie's visit to Prince Bismarck, who is unable to go out or attend 
the fetes, has given great pleasure here. 

The genial atmosphere created by these two marriages 
led to a further marriage, for the sister of one of the 
brides. Princess Louise Margaret, the third daughter of 
Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia, now became engaged 
to the Duke of Connaught. But before the marriage could 
take place the whole court was plunged into mourning 
by a series of tragic happenings at Darmstadt, where the 
family of Princess Alice, the Crown Princess's favourite 
sister, were stricken with diphtheria. On November i6 9 
1878, the youngest child died from the disease that 
during the previous fortnight had prostrated nearly every 
member of the grand-ducal family. The mother, Princess 
Alice, had the dreadful task of breaking this sad piece of 
news to her only surviving son, and his distress was such 
that the mother, disregarding all the physicians' injunc- 
tions not to embrace her children, clasped him in her 
arms, and thus received the kiss of death. In spite of all 
medical efforts. Princess Alice died on December 14, 1878, 
the same day on which the Prince Consort had died 
seventeen years earlier. Between Princess Alice and the 
Crown Princess there had always been sympathy and 
devotion, which increased in later years owing to the fact 
that both of them, having married German princes, were 
resident in Germany. The blow was most distressing for 
the Crown Princess, who wrote to Queen Victoria on 
December 15, 1878 : 

. . . I am in an agony of mind I cannot describe my thoughts 
fly backwards and forwards from you to poor unhappy Louis in 

171 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1878 his loneliness and bereavement, then to those poor darling children 
whose fates are more deeply affected than any by the perfect 
destruction that has come over their happy home! 

Sweet darling Alice is she really gone ? So good, and dear 
so much admired. I cannot realise it, it is too awful, too cruel, 
too terrible. One can only hold fast to the belief that resignation 
and gratitude are the never dying principles with which we must 
accept what life brings, the blessings and the trials, the grief and 
the happiness, the sunshine and the darkness which are inseparable. 
... Oh that God would give wings to our souls to soar into 
the regions of calmness and peace above, where the grace of 
charity shines and the agonising details of ruin and destruction 
disappear from our frail eyes. Dead, dear darling! Blessed peace 
is hers and all suffering is over : but you, dear Mama, I know 
and feel what you are going through and I suffer for you from 
the inmost depths of my heart. I feel as if sorrow had made 
me quite old in two days. Our darling! I can hardly bear to 
write her dear name : she was my particular sister, the nearest in 
age, the only one living in the same country with me! We had 
so many interests in common and all our children were so near 
of an age! A peculiar tenderness for her was always in my heart, 
which perhaps she herself did not know or feel, and which no 
little difference or misunderstanding (of which, thank God, there 
were but few) ever lessened. We had been through so much 
together, had been through the same trials, till those came that 
lately overwhelmed her! I had always thought her fate fraught 
with many a difficulty, in spite of her dear and sweet husband, 
and of her charming home. These last years have been par- 
ticularly trying for all who belong to Germany, and both she 
and I felt greatly, each in a different way. How anxious I have felt 
about her dear health I cannot tell you. It often tormented me to 
see her so frail, so white, and her nerves so unstrung, though it 
only added additional charm and grace to her dear person and 
seemed to envelop her with something sad and touching that 
always drew me to her all the more, and made me feel a wish to 
help her and take care of her, poor dear! . . . Her last letter to 
me, a little pencil note, which, alas, I did not keep, was a cry of 
anguish for her sweet little flower, so rudely torn from its stem. 
I never heard from her again. . . . 

But now those unfortunate children! I have no words to 
172 



THE CROWN PRINCESS AND HER FAMILY 

describe what I feel for them. A life without a mother's love is no 1879 
life. . . . How can a man, even the kindest and best as dear Louis 
is, know all that is required for the bringing up of girls ? But 
you, dear Mama, will always take an interest in them and give 
them your support and advice and all that is in my power I 
shall do for them! . . . 

Three months later, on March 13, 1879, ^ e Duke of 
Connaught, the Crown Princess's second brother, was 
married to Princess Louise Margaret, but even this happy 
event had barely occurred when a further tragedy happened 
in the Crown Princess's own family. Of all her children, 
the one whose health gave her the most anxiety, and who 
in turn perhaps received the greatest amount of maternal 
love, was her fourth son, the little Prince Waldemar. In 
spite of all her devotion, the little ten-year-old Prince 
sickened and died in the closing days of March. It was 
on the morning of March 27 that Queen Victoria, then 
in Paris on her way to Lake Maggiore, received a telegram 
from her daughter which ran : " Have just taken a last 
look at the beloved child. He expired at half-past three 
this morning from paralysis of the heart. Your broken- 
hearted daughter, Victoria." 

The blow was a severe one, but good news followed 
ill, for two months later there came the glad tidings that 
the Crown Princess's eldest daughter, Charlotte, had been 
safely delivered of a baby girL Thus, at the age of thirty- 
nine, the Crown Princess was a grandmother an event 
which closely approximated to Queen Victoria's own 
history, for she had become a grandmother at the age of 
thirty-eight 

To all her surviving children the Crown Princess 
displayed to the full that tender maternal consideration 
which was one of her most marked characteristics, but 

173 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1879 with regard to her attitude towards her eldest son, Prince 
William, many bitter, ill-informed and even malicious 
attacks have been made upon her. One recent biographer, 
for instance, 1 speaks of " the cold-heartedness of a des- 
potic mother ", who " could not forgive the imperfection 
of her eldest child " and " cherished in her heart a secret 
grudge against her misshapen son ". Such words as those 
have no foundation in fact and would seem attributable to 
a presumption derived from the divergencies which mani- 
fested themselves in later years. It is perhaps well to recall 
an earlier letter of the Crown Princess's of January 28, 
1871,2 in which she states, " I am happy to say that be- 
tween him and me there is a bond of love and confidence 
that I feel nothing can destroy ". In the years that fol- 
lowed none was more eager to fight battles on her son's 
behalf than the Princess, and one such incident may be 
mentioned. On January 27, 1877, Prince William came 
of age on his eighteenth birthday. Queen Victoria, his 
grandmother, offered the young Prince the Grand Com- 
mandership of the Bath. Prince William, however, held 
that he was worthy of a higher distinction, and his mother 
promptly wrote to Queen Victoria pointing out that the 
Emperors of Russia and of Austria, and the King of Italy 
had already sent the Prince the highest orders at their 
disposal, and that the German Emperor himself had in 
earlier years bestowed not only on the Prince of Wales, 
but also on his brothers Alfred and Arthur, the highest 
order in his power to give the decoration of the Black 
Eagle. The Order of the Garter, she urged, was the only 
one that would suffice. " Willy ", she added, " would be 
satisfied with the Bath, but the nation would not." Queen 

1 Emil Ludwig, in his Kaiser Wilhelm IL p. 6. 

2 Quoted on pp. 119-120, supra. 
174 



THE CROWN PRINCESS AND HER FAMILY 

Victoria yielded to the Crown Princess's pleading on her 1879 
son's behalf, and on his eighteenth birthday the future 
Emperor William II. received the Order of the Garter. 

Most particularly was the Crown Princess anxious 
that her eldest son should receive the education and fall 
under the influences which would fit him to lead his 
country forward in the paths of peace and progress as a 
liberal broad-minded monarch. When the young Prince 
was but a schoolboy she had been eager to break through 
the stiff traditional educational regime of the Prussian 
court and, after much debate, had won her point, with 
the result that her two eldest sons were sent from their 
military school at Wilhelmshohe to the Lyceum at Cassel, 
where they were treated as civilians. The intoxicating 
events of three brilliant wars exercised, however, an in- 
fluence which so liberal a curriculum was ineffectual to 
counteract, and there developed early in Prince William 
indications of a wish for independence that marked the 
beginning of the differences of opinion between mother 
and son. Whilst the Prince was in his teens he naturally 
had to defer to the opinions of his parents, but when, 
in 1880, at twenty-one years of age, he returned to his 1880 
parental home from the Potsdam garrison where he had 
discharged the duties of a first lieutenant in the regiment 
of guards, it became evident that the military clique which 
surrounded him had exercised influences which caused 
grave apprehensions in the minds of his parents. In his 
character there was indeed much mingling of good and 
ill. From his mother he had inherited an intellectual 
quickness and ability which for a century had been rare 
among the Hohenzollerns, but with it was combined a 
sensibility which made him particularly susceptible to 
flattery and resentful of anything that tended to detract 

175 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1880 from his own importance. As a result, mother and son 
were now frequently estranged. The story is by no means 
an unusual one : in fact it happens every day where 
mother and son, both having similar personalities, hold 
diametrically opposed views on life. Up to the time that 
Prince William left home, all the Princess's letters show 
that she was devoted to him and thought of nothing but 
his happiness and his future success. Possibly the mistake 
she made was to try and make him as like his father as 
possible, and to this mould the future Emperor, conscious 
of powers in other directions, could not be forced or 
persuaded to conform. In his outlook on the world he 
saw before him two obstacles to complete power. The 
first was his octogenarian grandfather, the Emperor 
William L, who, however, could not be expected to live 
much longer; the second was his father, the Crown 
Prince, now fifty years of age, whom he regarded as a 
powerless heir-apparent with little control over his time 
or finances, and checked continually by the Emperor 
and the powerful Bismarck. To the young Prince, the 
liberal opinions of his father were anathema, and the 
evident English sympathies of his mother he deemed un- 
patriotic. Both parents, although they saw with dismay 
these new tendencies, regarded them with a parental love 
that overlooked their worst manifestations, and in all the 
letters of the Crown Princess to Queen Victoria at this 
period it is noteworthy that he is mentioned proudly, 
fondly and indulgently. 1 

Early in 1880 Prince William became secretly engaged 

1 To say as Ludwig says (Kaiser Wtthelm IL p. 13), " When 
his father's long life exacerbated him (the Crown Prince) beyond 
endurance, he revenged himself on his son ", is a statement that 
lacks foundation. 
176 



THE CROWN PRINCESS AND HER FAMILY 

to Princess Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein- 1880 
Sonderburg-Augustenburg, daughter of that Duke Fred- 
erick who sixteen years previously had laid claim to the 
Duchy of Holstein, and niece of Prince Christian who 
had married the Crown Princess's sister Helena. 

Four days after the secret engagement, the Crown 
Princess, who had a fear that the betrothal might not 
meet with the approval of the Berlin court party, owing 
to the bride not being one of the inner circle, wrote to 
Queen Victoria (February 18) : 

Willy has written most touching letters (in his own funny 
style) about his great happiness. He engaged himself to dear 
Victoria on the i4th, and had to leave again on the next day so as 
not to attract attention, as it is all yet to be kept a secret. "We 
received the letters yesterday and the news caused us great emotion 
as you can imagine, but we also feel very thankful and much re- 
lieved. You will perhaps see our dear future daughter-in-law before 
we see her ourselves, as there is a chance of her going to England 
and we should hardly see her before June. 

Fritz wishes me to say that he recommends her to your kind- 
ness. As your dear sister's grand-daughter and your grandson's 
bride, we feel sure you will have a little place in your heart for her. 

What a very horrid thing has happened at St. Petersburg! 1 
It makes one's blood run cold, to think of what might have been, 
and of the danger that may still surround the unfortunate Emperor. 
How can human beings be so cruel! and yet I am afraid the deeds 
committed by the authorities, police, etc., on Russian subjects have 
been no less cruel, and Siberia with all its horrors, the awful treat- 
ment of the Poles, are terrible things which cry for vengeance. 
But really to have the last Act of the Prophets in one's dining 
room in good earnest is too dreadful. Guy Fawkes and Gun- 
powder Treason one had thought were things of the past. Luckily 
these horrid attempts hardly ever succeed, but it is all a chance ; 

1 On February 17 there was an attempt to assassinate the Tsar. 
At seven o'clock in the evening a mine exploded under the dining- 
room as the Imperial family were descending the stairs to go to 
dinner. 

N I 77 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1880 they might fail nine times and succeed on the tenth. The poor 
delicate Empress, what a shock to her nerves! And poor Maria, 
what a fright for her and for them all This Emperor is such a 
kind and humane man that one feels doubly for him. This must 
make a dreadful sensation everywhere. 

To Queen Victoria's sympathetic answer, the Crown 
Princess replied on February 21 : 

"What, indeed, has not happened! Fritz makes me laugh with 
his dismal forebodings, but he is convinced that some day or other 
the Russian attempt will be copied at Berlin, and that these horrors 
only excite imitation. 

Of course, the science of destruction has been carried to a great 
perfection by dynamite, nitro-glycerine, torpedo, Thomas watches, 
etc. These are horrible engines of death which have been thought 
charmingly useful in time of war, but when accessible to wicked 
people, or even to excited maniacs, may deal most frightful damage 
still I am inclined to think that in spite of all this human life has 
become more sacred than it was. Formerly Emperors of Russia 
who were in anyone's way were throttled, poisoned or assassinated 
in one fashion or another. " Le despotisme tempere par 1'assassina- 
tion ", as Voltaire called the Russian form of Government, whereas 
now assassins are no longer to be found among the officers of the 
Imperial Guard and nobility, etc., but are confined to a band of 
reckless, lawless men, who are for the moment dreadfully danger- 
ous. How far spread this conspiracy is, is of course most difficult 
to guess. "What connection with the " Internationale and Com- 
munists " of other countries the Nihilists have, is not known, but 
in Russia there is so little honesty, truth and justice, that it will 
be very difficult to find out the real criminals, and any amount of 
innocent people may be suspected and even punished. It is a 
horrible thought. How horrified poor Marie must have been, and 
Affie too. It is too shocking an event. . . . 

About Willy I will only add that I do think it will be a very 
unpopular match at Berlin, because the poor Holsteins are mat vu, 
and there is a widespread, though very false, idea that they are not 
ebenburtig. But I am sure this prejudice will wear off very quickly. 

Early in March Prince William's fiancee arrived in 
England on a visit to Queen Victoria. The Queen was at 
178 



THE CROWN PRINCESS AND HER FAMILY 

once attracted to her prospective granddaughter-in-law 1880 
(who became " Dona " to the family circle), and wrote 
cordially of her to the Crown Princess. On March 26 
the Crown Princess replied : 

I am so delighted that you think Victoria so gentle and amiable 
and sweet. She always struck me as such. I am sure she must 
win all hearts. Her smile and her manners and expression must 
disarm even the bristly, thorny people of Berlin with their sharp 
tongues, their cutting sarcasms about everybody and everything. 
The announcement has been much better taken than I had dared 
to hope. There are of course many who are dissatisfied, but they 
are in society and court circles ; in the public at large the news has 
been received with pleasure, as is proved to me by the many 
letters I receive. If I have been remiss in writing lately, it is because 
I have so much to do in the way of writing an account of the 
Verlobung. 

My wishes are exactly the same as yours about Willy. I much 
wish he should see a little of the world before marrying, though 
all the time he was here it was the same as in Belgium and in 
Holland and in London he does not care to look at anything, took 
no interest whatever in works of art, did not in the least admire 
beautiful scenery and would not look at a Guide Book, or any 
other book which would give him information about the places 
to be seen. In this way you will admit that travelling is not of 
much use, it is decidedly not his turn. 

I also much wish that the marriage should take place in the 
course of next year. I think it is a great blessing that Victoria is 
22, and not 17, for in a place so difficult to get on in that is a great 
advantage. 

On the following day she wrote : 

Congratulations on William's engagement come to me now on 
all sides it is often a sore trial to speak of joy, happiness and 
festivities and receive congratulations, when one has an aching 
void at heart. But such is life: while some are looking eagerly 
forward, others feel that they must ever be casting longing looks 
backwards to the time that was, and there is a melancholy jealous 
feeling of consolation in the feeling that we remember, when all 

179 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1880 others forget, the beloved ones that once brightened our home 
with their dear presence. But I am very, very grateful for Willie's 
happiness and sure dear Victoria will be a blessing to everyone 
because she is so gentle and good. 

Nor did the elation show any signs of diminution 
during succeeding months. 

Willy [wrote the Crown Princess on May 24] looks so happy 
and I must say I think people have come round wonderfully. 
Everyone seems disposed to like Dona, and what feeling there 
was against the marriage has almost disappeared. I am very, very 
thankful for this, for their dear sakes, and for the future. 

The Crown Princess was now to learn of a love-story 
which, to one of her upbringing and rigid sense of right 
and wrong, must have appeared particularly lacking in 
the pleasing features usually associated with a wedding. 
Into her world of decorum, where the diversities of for- 
tune and happiness had shown themselves in familiar 
guise, a tragedy of passion and tears obtruded itself. 

On June 3, 1880, the Princess was disturbed to learn 
of the death of the Empress Marie of Russia, mother of 
the Duchess of Edinburgh (the Crown Princess's sister- 
in-law), and hastened to express her sympathy with the 
bereaved Emperor Alexander II. and his daughter. With- 
in a few months, however, she was scandalised to learn 
that the Emperor had married again within six weeks 
of his wife's death. The circumstances certainly were 
unusual, and there were many who looked with tolerant 
eye upon the Emperor's hasty remarriage. Although 
ostensibly the Emperor's first marriage had been a 
happy one, he had some years previously fallen madly 
in love with one of the most beautiful women in Russia, 
the Countess Dolgoroukova, the daughter of a wealthy 
nobleman. Her parents, realising the turn events had 
180 



THE CROWN PRINCESS AND HER FAMILY 

taken, sent their daughter away to Naples for two years, 1880 
but the separation only served to strengthen the love 
affair, and when the Emperor went to Paris on a visit, 
the Countess fled from Naples to join him and returned 
with him to St. Petersburg. In order to throw a cloak 
over this illicit love affair, she was appointed Lady- 
in-waiting to the Empress, and lived in the Winter 
Palace in apartments to which a secret entrance had been 
added. 

During the twelve years that she lived in the Palace, 
four children were born to her, and her position, difficult 
as it was, was to some extent made possible by her great 
beauty, her charm and her unfailing tact. When the 
Empress died, it was generally supposed that the Emperor 
would marry her, and although six weeks was certainly 
a shorter period of mourning than either court or nation 
expected, yet society at St. Petersburg made allowance 
for this lack of convention. The marriage being mor- 
ganatic, the Emperor now bestowed upon his bride the 
title of Her Serene Highness Princess Yourievsky. 

To the Crown Princess this story of passion and 
intrigue, culminating in tragedy, appeared as a horrifying 
irruption into the placid stream of her well-ordered life. 
It was as if a reader of Schiller were to be unexpectedly 
confronted with a telling page from one of Dostoievsky's 
works. With an effort she adjusted herself to the new 
situation, and on hearing of the Emperor's marriage wrote 
to Queen Victoria on November 12, 1880 : 

Fritz wishes me to tell you that on Monday he had a letter from 
General Schweinitz enclosing one from St. Petersburg from our 
Military Attache*, General Werder (the intimate friend of the 
Emperor Alexander) saying : The Emperor was married to Prin- 
cess Dolgoroukova on the 26th July in presence of General 
Adlerbergand General Rilesef. He has given the name of Yourievsky 

181 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1880 to his wife and children. It is not to be made known until the 
2nd or 3rd December. The Emperor Alexander has desired a 
letter to be written to my father-in-law informing him of the fact. 
The Emperor (my father-in-law) wrote this to Fritz two days ago. 
We knew from another source that after the marriage ceremony 
the Emperor sent for Minny and the Cesarewitsch and presented 
his wife to them and asked them to be kind to her. The unbecoming 
haste with which the Emperor had the marriage rite performed 
while the mourning for the poor Empress was yet so fresh, I 
think can be accounted for and to a certain extent be justified by 
his desire to do his duty as a man of honour by a lady and his 
children whom he had placed in so painful a position. He feels 
his health breaking and his life very uncertain in the condition 
Russia now is in, and most likely wishes to legalise the ties he has 
formed before a sudden death might prevent him from making 
this reparation. What one must feel bitterly is the want of respect 
to the poor Empress's memory, so devoted and virtuous a wife 
and loving a mother. General Schwemitz says that anything is 
better, however, than the former state of things, which was a 
crying scandal. The poor Empress's feelings were not considered 
while she lived, therefore what can be put straight in such lament- 
able Perhdltnisse should be done without delay, and I am sure 
you will agree with me that it is better so. Much as the children 
feel their father's marrying again, yet it must be preferable for them 
to feeling ashamed of the life he was leading. 

I am more shocked than I can say at the whole business, it 
reminds one of Louis XIV. and XV., and I feel very sorry for 
the Emperor, as I am sure he is much too kindhearted a man not 
to feel into what a fix he has got himself. On the other hand, in 
Russia morality stands so low, and people are so lax and so in- 
different that they do not care what happens. Please do not say 
you have heard all this from me. No doubt the Emperor Alexander 
will have sent you word in some way perhaps through Alfred ? 

In the same autumn Prince William spent a month in 
England as the guest of Prince Christian, his bride's 
uncle, at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, and on his return 
to Berlin at the end of November preparations were made 
for his approaching wedding. The Crown Princess, 
182 



THE CROWN PRINCESS AND HER FAMILY 

while welcoming her eldest son's marriage, could not but 1881 
feel a pang at the coming separation from her son, and 
wrote to her mother on January i, 1881 : 

It is the last time we have Willy unmarried, in the same house, 
in his old rooms with us. He thinks me absurdly sentimental to 
observe this and says it is all the same to him in what place, or 
house, or room he lives. I hate saying the words <c last time " to 
anything, as much as I do the words " Good Bye ". Being soft- 
hearted is very inconvenient it is true, but we cannot help it ; those 
who are not, feel much more comfortable. 

The letter seems to emphasise the difference in tem- 
perament between mother and son a difference that was 
to be so acutely accentuated during the next few years. 
It was during the early 'eighties that Prince William 
seemed to become more and more imbued with the idea 
that his mother was pro-English and worked against 
German interests. 

The wedding festivities took place on February 27, 
1881, and were the occasion for the promotion to the 
peerage as Lord Ampthill of Odo Russell, the intimate 
friend of both the Crown Princess and the Prince of 
Wales. On the day of the wedding the Crown Princess 
wrote to her mother : 

All has gone off very well till now. The Eitjfug-was really fine. 
Dear Dona looked charming and everyone was taken wih her 
sweetness and grace. Her face wore a look of innocent happiness, 
which did one good to see. Her toilette was very becoming a 
light blue and gold brocade, with pink and white China asters, 
and her pearls and your beautiful pendant round her neck. 

The weather was fine and everyone in a good humour. The 
crowd cheered and seemed pleased, and the decorations were really 
very pretty indeed. 

I was quite exhausted yesterday evening, or I would have 
written directly. I had a diadem on, which pressed my head a 
great deal, and did not take it off for six hours and a half. The 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1 88 1 reception in the Schloss also went off very well, and even Prince 
Bismarck appeared. 

Today will be very trying and I wish it were over. 

My parents-in-law are wonderful and never tired, standing, 
heat, toilettes, talking, nothing seems to knock them up. 

I thought so much of you> dearest Mama, and of the days when 
I arrived here. It is made far easier to Victoria than it was to me, 
and I hope she will never suffer from Heimweh as I do to this day. 

Scarcely a fortnight after the echoes of the wedding 
bells had died away there came the tragic news that the 
Emperor Alexander IL of Russia had been assassinated 
by a bomb on his way from a military review at St. 
Petersburg. The first bomb which was thrown exploded 
in the rear of the carriage. The Emperor at once alighted, 
when a second bomb was thrown which inflicted fright- 
ful injuries. He died two hours later. One of the dramatic 
incidents connected with his death was that only a few 
days before he had given instructions for a will to be pre- 
pared in favour of his morganatic wife, Princess Youriev- 
sky. The will was brought to him to sign on the same 
day as an important ukase granting various reforms, the 
signing of which was a lengthy matter. He therefore post- 
poned signing until his return from the military review, 
but from that function he never returned. The news of 
the Emperor's death was a terrible shock for the Crown 
Princess, who wrote to her mother on March 14 : 

One is so horror-struck, that one really does not know what 
to say! Poor dear Emperor Alexander! To die a shocking death 
it is too awful 1 For with his faults and failings he was so amiable 
and charming and lovable, so kind-hearted and well-meaning. To 
be destroyed in so horrible a manner ; it makes one shudder and 
tremble, and fills one with pity, grief and sorrow! Thank God 
the dreadful telegram said " II n'a pas repris connaissance ", so 
that one may hope the fearful injuries had deprived him of all 
pain and consciousness, which is merciful. Poor darling Marie!! 
184 



THE CROWN PRINCESS AND HER FAMILY 

How will she stand so terrible a shock? To lose both parents 1881 
within a year and her Father, whom she doted on, in such a manner ! ! 
I suppose I shall see her this evening at the railway s:ation! 

All the circumstances are so terrible I This new marriage had 
cast such a chill over all relations defamille; and had done him 
much harm with the public I They say he was so very happy!! 
I pity the poor woman now for she loved him very much, 
though she had no business to be where she was yet. I am sure 
the poor creature must be in an agony! 

My father-in-law shed many tears, and is most deeply grieved, 
but I am happy to say it did not give him a sudden shock, which 
it might have done had he been younger! At his age impressions 
are not so violent. He was so fond of his nephew! I shall never for- 
get how kind and nice the poor Emperor Alexander always was 
to me. As for the Nihilists not being destroyed I am quite sure 
of that, and could not share dear Affie's sanguine views on the 
subject! 

Too many cruelties, too much severity had been shown by the 
Government for a long period of years for a spirit of revenge not 
to spring up, which is then too difficult to quell. The saddest part 
is that it should be wreaked out on so well intentioned and kind 
hearted a Sovereign who was not the tyrant the others had been 
before him, though he had a little of it in him at times, as mostly 
all Czars must have! The state of all grades of Society there is 
too bad and too sad! How will they get into a civilised State of 
Liberty and order where all that cruel oppression, that sending to 
Siberia and slowly killing families wholesale, will cease, and the 
life and freedom of the subject be protected by wise and humane 
laws conscientiously carried out! Despotism is a demon that has 
all savage crimes and cruelties in his train, and must sooner or later 
lead to such terrible things, which then usually fall on the innocent. 
Vor dem Sklaven wenn er die Kette bricht, 
Vor dem freien Menschen zitt're nicht. 1 

I am so sorry for Sacha 2 and Minny, 3 to take up a murdered 

1 Before the Slave when he breaks his chain, 
Before the Freeman tremble not. 

2 The Czarewitch. 

3 Married daughter of the King of Denmark, sister of Queen 
Alexandra. 

185 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1 88 1 father's Crown is too dreadful. I know what we felt when we 
were so nearly in the same position! 

I have not closed my eyes all night, I was so shaken with horror! 
Thank God the poor Empress was spared this. The poor Emperor 
always expected such a death, and for years has felt like a hunted 
hare safe nowhere. What a life at such a price! I must own I 
always dreaded it and thought that if those attacks on his life 
continued, one would be successful. 

Fancy the confusion at Petersburg, the terror, and all the 
horrible reprisals they will resort to ! As dangerous in my eyes as 
the rest of the state of things 1 Bloodshed and cruelty all round 
it makes one shudder and creep! I must end, dearest Mama, in a 
hurry. We go to the Greek Mass at half past 1 1 to the Russian 
Embassy, and whether Fritz has to go off to St. Petersburg or 
not, I don't know. 

Already much of the beauty of life had vanished for 
the Empress. In Germany she had not won that love 
and veneration which her mother now commanded in 
England ; always there were those who were willing to 
place the worst constructions upon her most innocent 
and well-meant acts. She was misunderstood but one 
person at least understood her her husband whom she 
loved and adored with all her heart. Never once had 
the idyllic promise of those early days of marriage been 
broken never once had the finger of disillusion de- 
stroyed the gossamer beauty of a perfect marriage. How- 
ever trying and difficult affairs might be, two things as yet 
she felt she could count on with unerring trust the love 
and affection of her children and the unchanging, un- 
ceasing loyalty and love of the husband she adored. 



186 



CHAPTER VII 

FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 1878-1886 

THE decade following the Treaty of Berlin had shown 1879 
a gradual increase of German influence in world affairs, 
but at the same time a somewhat remarkable decline of 
British prestige. In these years Bismarck definitely made 
new departures in domestic and foreign policy. In home 
affairs he continued negotiations with the Vatican over 
the anti-clerical May Laws, whose author. Dr. Falk, 
resigned office ; and he abandoned free trade and began 
to build up a constructive system of protection. In 
foreign policy he risked strained relations with Russia by 
signing a defensive alliance with Austria, and even made 
tentative overtures towards a rapprochement with Great 
Britain although no definite offer of an alliance was 
made till ten years later. On November 3, 1879, Queen 
Victoria wrote to the Crown Princess : 

What Fritz said about the alliance or good understanding be- 
tween Germany and Austria is not new to me. It came in a secret 
form two months ago to my ears ; but only now have I heard it 
from Lord Salisbury who heard it from Count Karolyi. I am 
naturally pleased at the prospect which a cordial defensive alliance 
between Germany and Austria offers in the interest of peace. The 
value of such an alliance, however, would be greatly diminished 
in my eyes if it gave umbrage to France. Fritz seems to think 
our influence might be used in deterring France from oppos- 
ing herself to such a league, but how far or under what conditions 
our influence can be exerted beneficially is a question involving 
a great many considerations, and I know not yet what Lord Beacons- 

187 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1880 field's and Lord Salisbury's views are. But I am certain that any 
league against France would never be tolerated by this country. 

Fritz's name shall not be mentioned, and I am very grateful for 
his giving me the important information he has done. If he hears 
more I trust he will let me know. And I may soon be able to say 
more. 

In the years that followed the Eastern question came 
up again and again. Turkey, the sick man of Europe, 
seemed to recover after the drastic surgical operation 
which the Congress had decided would be the solution 
of his troubles, and two years later Ottoman sovereignty 
and Ottoman misrule were again defying the doctors. 
In the meantime the great opponent of Lord Beacons- 
field's Eastern policy, Mr. Gladstone, had his turn at the 
Eastern problem. His Cabinet, with Lord Granville as 
Foreign Secretary, entered office in April 1880, just in 
time, as Lord Dufferin said, to prevent England from 
coming into conflict with all the world. 

Bismarck was determined that the terms of the Treaty 
of Berlin should be adhered to, and pointedly said 
(December 5, 1879) that " the sound bones of a single 
Pomeranian grenadier " would not be sacrificed to solve 
a Balkan wrangle. Yet neither Montenegro nor Greece 
would be satisfied until those rectifications of frontiers 
promised in the Treaty had been carried out by Turkey, 
and Turkey, recovering, felt sufficiently well not to 
respect her obligations. 

"With a view to the adjustment of these claims, a Euro- 
pean Conference met in London in June 1880. Turkey, 
however, objected to the decision of the Conference 
that she should cede the port and littoral of Dulcigno 
to Montenegro. On July 10 the Crown Princess wrote: 

The present moment seems to me a most critical one, and one 
that demands prompt and energetic action on the part of England. 
188 



FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 1878-1886 

The Turks will not give way to European advice alone; the 1880 
Russians encourage their resistance and also further the demands 
of all those interested in taking a portion of Turkey for themselves, 
knowing that they can in that way obtain their Constantinople. 
Until they have it they will never rest, nor will the " Eastern 
question " ever be terminated ; they will work at bringing it up 
again under every possible shape and form with their own peculiar 
cleverness and astuteness. They know full well, that no other 
European Power has a very great interest to prevent their having 
Constantinople and they reckon on England's inability to prevent 
it. England must and can prevent it, but only now, in a few weeks 
it would be too late. Torpedoes will be placed to prevent English 
ships coming up, and the partition of Turkey will be effected with 
much cruelty and bloodshed. 

Why can our ships not come into the Dardanelles? Why 
cannot England who has been obliged to do so much for the 
Turks, and has spent money and life enough to prevent Russia 
from taking possession of Constantinople, not prevent it to the end ! 
Mr. Gladstone's policy has, of course, hastened on the crisis which 
would have taken years to come to its present state. The Turks 
have had every chance of reforming and mending their ways 
they are incapable of doing so, and even their best friends must 
allow that they can remain in Europe no more Why not use 
douce violence, Le., go in and oblige them as friends to carry out 
what they cannot do themselves 1 Why not send Sir Lintorn 
Simmons to make a military convention with them and some ships 
to the Golden Horn! Why not leave Mr. Goschen x there and send 
more people to take in hand Turkish finance and administration ? 
It is the only way to prevent cruel bloodshed and war! The other 
European Powers would, I am certain, not oppose such a plan! If 
later the Sultan would take up his abode at Smyrna and even 
move down to Asia Minor, and Constantinople remain under 
English administration till an independent State, guaranteed by the 
European Powers, and an independent Sovereign at its head can 
be established, so much the better! The danger of a State which 
would be Russia's vassal, to be absorbed by her at a convenient 
moment, would be averted! 

1 Mr. J. G. Goschen, M.P. (afterwards Viscount Goschen) who 
was temporary Ambassador at Constantinople. 

189 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1880 Roumania, Bosnia and Bulgaria, now so afraid of Russia, would 
have someone to lean on, and in that part of the world it would 
be English influence and not Russian influence that would reign 
and govern ! What a benefit to the world in general that would be ! 

I trust there may be energy and decision enough at the Foreign 
Office to take the right step and not to wait or hesitate ; in a fort- 
night it would be too late. The Russians will be into Con- 
stantinople like a shot on the first opportunity! Of this we have 
plenty of evidence. 

They think the English Liberal Government are determined to 
do nothing, and this makes them very confident of success. I am 
not Russophobe and think it very unjust, but I know what the 
Russians think and intend! I am Turcophile, Le., I wish to see 
the Turkish population, instead of being massacred and obliged to 
fight again, enjoying a Government such as the one under which 
our Mussulman population in India prosper and not the cruel 
and barbarous rule of Russian officials inspired by the fanaticism 
of the Greek religion 1 1 As we cannot keep up the Sultan's rule, 
surely we ought by every means in our power to prevent him and 
his people being swallowed up by the very Power we resisted in 
1854. 

You know I have always put forward this view and hold itl! 
If Alfred be not the proper Sovereign for an independent State 
(which would develop out of a British occupation) there is Arthur 
and Leopold, or the Duke of Genoa, or other Princes might be 
found in Germany who could undertake such a task Prince 
Waldemar of Denmark 1! There are many Prussians who think it 
would be very good to have the Russians at Constantinople. 
Prince Bismarck does not exactly wish it, and would prefer English 
influence to another, but of course to have the Russians busied 
in the East makes him feel less threatened at home ; they are such 
very unsafe neighbours and slippery friends, and Germany is so 
uncomfortably placed between France and Russia, that one is 
-alwaysjDn the " qui vive "* 

I hope" you will not mind my having spoken out so plainly, 
but my convictions tasiso very strong on the subject and time is 
so very precious not zriath&r^moment ^hould be lost, and a bold 
** coup " made The details of how^ I am 'sure there are clever 
heads in the Cabinet enough to make out! 

PS. On this subject the interests of England, Europe and 
190 



FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 1878-1886 

the world at large seem to me quite identical not so the interests 1881 
of Russia, which are purely selfish and not humane, or civilizatory 
or for the honour and glory of liberty and progress! 

In the October of 1881 the general elections in 
Germany resulted in a large Liberal majority, an event 
which pleased the Crown Princess, who wrote to Queen 
Victoria on November 5 : 

... I am very glad the German elections have returned so 
many liberals, and I hope it will show Prince Bismarck that 
the Germans are not all delighted with his government, though 
I do not think he cares a bit! I wonder why he does not say 
straight out " As long as I live both the constitution and the crown 
are suspended " ; because that is the exact state of the matter. No 
doubt he is quite patriotic and sincere, and thinks it is for the good 
of Germany! He thinks a great central power is necessary and 
that one will must decide and the state be everything and do 
everything like one vast set of machinery, say the " Inflexible ", 
for instance, where the captain alone works everything by elec- 
tricity and directs the ship ... so Prince Bismarck wishes with 
the pressure of his little finger to direct the whole, and thinks 
it doubly necessary for safety's sake in case of being attacked by 
France or Russia. 

I do not like this state of things, but most Prussians and 
Conservatives do. ... 

The Princess was not long left in doubt as to Bis- 
marck's determination to be the sole controller of the 
German ship of state, for three weeks later, on November 
29, he bluntly declared that in spite of the liberal majority 
he did not intend Germany to be ruled after the English 
fashion, and on January 7, 1882, an Imperial rescript was 1882 
issued against parliamentary government. Once again 
Bismarck was supreme. 

One result of these political changes in England and 
Germany was a steadily increasing tension between the 
two countries, which was not minimised by Bismarck's 

191 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1882 insistence on the impossibility of any alliance with 
England owing to her parliamentary control of foreign 
policy. A general election bringing in a new ministry 
might, he thought, overturn any foreign understanding 
made by its predecessors, and his policy was accordingly 
one of deep distrust of England, particularly during the 
Gladstone regime. This distrust extended to those in 
Germany who were known to be of English sympathies, 
and even the Crown Princess found herself surrounded 
by a network of espionage. It was about this period that 
there was attached to the Crown Prince's suite by Bis- 
marck a Count Radolin-Radolinsky, who had orders to 
watch the activities of the Princess's Court Chamberlain, 
Count Seckendorff. Not unnaturally Radolinsky's domi- 
neering attitude gave considerable cause for trouble, for 
while he appeared to support the Crown Princess's views 
and opinions, his presence was a thorn in the flesh to the 
more loyal members of her suite. It was in 1882 or 1883 
that the Crown Princess's friend, Lady Ponsonby, wrote 
to her husband, who was secretary to Queen Victoria : 

I don't think the Queen realises what an extraordinary state of 
things exists in Germany in the way of espionage and intrigue. 
They, the Foreign Office, which means Bismarck, wanted to put a 
man of their own about the Crown Princess so as more effectually 
to control the Crown Prince when he became Emperor. Secken- 
dorff refused to play the spy, and, although being opposed to the 
Crown Princess in politics, would not lend himself to this intrigue. 
They began by dismissing his brother, after twenty years" service, 
from the Foreign Office without any reason being given. Then 
they appointed Radolinsky (Court Marshal to the Crown Prince) 
with orders to get rid of Seckendorff. Radolinsky furthered, or ap- 
peared to further, the Crown Princess's views about Bulgaria, and 
ingratiated himself into her good graces and then began the under- 
mining of Seckendorff. I think Seckendorff is to blame for his 
dictatorial manner, and she may have made him, as is the wont of 

192 



FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 1878-1886 

the family, too much " the indispensable one ", but I feel convinced 1884 
on the whole that he is being got rid of under false pretences, for 
Radolinsky's manner of defending the Crown Princess simply con- 
sists of spreading these reports and in trying to detach her family 
from her. 

In the following years this rivalry between Radolinsky 
and Seckendorff, inspired by Bismarck, was to reach pro- 
portions that gravely perturbed the Crown Princess, but 
for the moment the espionage and intrigue was hidden 
from her eyes. 

One of the most trusted friends of the Crown Prince 
and Princess now died at Potsdam. The death of Lord 
Ampthill (Odo Russell) was a sad blow for them both, 
for even though the able Ambassador's successor was 
Sir Edward Malet, whose staff included Colonel L. V. 
Swaine as Military Attache, no one could quite replace 
the gifted Lord Ampthill, who had been their friend for 
over twenty years* On August 30, 1884, the Crown 
Princess, who was then on holiday in England, wrote to 
Queen Victoria, who was at Osborne. 

I feel I have not half thanked you for the charming stay you 
allowed us to have in this sweet, peaceful little cottage which I 
love so much! It was indeed delightful in every way and I know 
not how to express all my gratitude, also for letting my little 
people stay here while I am away. I shall feel they are all so safe, 
and well cared for. 

The more I think of Berlin, and the poor dear Lord Odo's 
successor, the more I fear that amongst the diplomatists the right 
person does not seem to be at the present forthcoming. The next 
few years are the most important; later, who could be better than 
Morier, but just now I really only see TWO men, the one, Lord 
Acton, and the other Lord Arthur Russell! Whether Lord Gran- 
ville could do it, whether they would be willing, are questions of 
course I know nothing about. 

My opinion you must take at what it is worth, but it is the only 

conclusion I can come to after my reflections and I sadly fear it 

193 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1884 will be disagreeable to poor Lord Granville, who is already so much 
worried and troubled. . . . (Lord Arthur has had some diplomatic 
training and was the secretary of his uncle. Lord John.) 

In that year the Crown Princess again met Mr. Glad- 
stone, and to an inquiry from Lady Ponsonby as to what 
she thought of the Liberal leader she replied (October 17, 
1884) : 

. . . You asked me what I thought of Mr. Gladstone when I 
saw him at Balmoral ? I thought him, as I always do, a wonderful 
man for whom I have the greatest respect and admiration, and 
who interests me deeply, and whose society I think perfectly 
charming! Such knowledge, such culture, such a memory, such 
earnestness of purpose, and such simplicity. Alas! I fear not the 
right man to solve the knotty questions which, as an Empire, 
England has to deal with, but invaluable in stemming the tide of 
democracy, because, as a true Liberal, he has the confidence of 
so many thousands and is the only one who can form a bridge 
between the old and the new. Whether he has the keen sight, the 
eagle eye of the statesman, I do not know. I fear not. Whether 
the measures he has adopted, Land Bill, etc., were right, I dare 
not say. I do not feel sure. The conscientiousness, the high and 
lofty aims he certainly has ; but at this present moment he seems 
so absorbed by the wants of the lower classes and middle class, 
and with the task of giving them all they can and may safely have, 
that the other great problems that hurry on are scarcely treated 
with the care and ability they require. The East, our Colonies, our 
Army and our Navy must not be neglected. France and Germany 
are allowed to be wanting in respect, and this never, never ought 
to be. It is well not to be too thin-skinned, but we ought not to 
allow others to trifle with usl 

If there is a conference at Berlin to settle, as they say, what is 
to become of Africa, ought England not to make the proposals 
and to insist on what decisions are to be taken ? England is a 
great deal too humble to foreign Powers I They only misunder- 
stand her. We get no thanks for our modesty and moderation. 
The tone of the German press towards England, with few excep- 
tions, is execrable, but as it is as stupid as it is insolent one had 
better pay no attention to it. 
194 



FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 1878-1886 

The Germans are always reproaching the English for having 1885 
prejudices against Germany, and forget that they have many more 
and much more deeply-seated ones about other countries, especially 
England ! They imagine England is jealous of Germany's attempt- 
ing to have colonies. I am almost certain that the whole agitation 
about colonial enterprise would not have been cooked up so 
much by the German government if it were not a useful handle 
for the elections and for securing the measure of the foundation 
of a line of German steam-packets which the Chancellor wants to 
carry. The nation is really like a child, delighted with a new toy 
or dainty morsel held out to it a sugar plum greedily trying 
to snatch it and furious with anybody or anything that seems to 
put difficulties in the wayl This colonial sugar plum may easily 
turn into a bitter almond, and the beginning seems to me sad 
enough if it cannot be obtained without an estrangement between 
England 'and Germany. 

In the following year, 1885, Mr. Gladstone's govern- 
ment received a new lease of life, but it then became 
dependent upon the Irish nationalist vote for its parlia- 
mentary majority. In the Liberal ministry which was 
formed in February 1886, Mr. Gladstone willingly ad- 1886 
mitted Mr. John Morley as Chief Secretary for Ireland, 
but it was with great reluctance that he included the 
Radical leader, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, as President of 
the Local Government Board. One striking omission was 
that of Sir Charles Dilke. All these statesmen were well 
known to the Crown Princess, but the appointment which 
gave her the greatest pleasure was that of Lord Rosebery 
to the Foreign Office, a promotion which also delighted 
Bismarck and his son, Count Herbert Bismarck. On 
February 5, 1886, the Crown Princess wrote to Queen 
Victoria : 

I am very glad indeed that Lord Rosebery is appointed to the 
Foreign Office. 

I saw Herbert Bismarck yesterday evening at a party and he 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1886 was quite delighted and said his father was immensely pleased, 
and hoped and trusted Lord Rosebery would walk in Lord Salis- 
bury's footsteps ; also that his father had great confidence in Lord 
Rosebery's abilities, intentions and energy. This was quite sincere, 
and it was not difficult to see that Prince Bismarck really desires 
to be well with England and really approved Lord S.'s Eastern 
policy. 

Mr. Gladstone now made it clear that he intended to 
go through with his policy of Home Rule for Ireland, 
and in his first interview with Queen Victoria early in 
February he outlined his scheme. To Queen Victoria's 
letter giving this news, the Crown Princess replied 
(February 5) : 

So many thanks for your dear letter of the 3rd and for the 
memorandum, ie. the notes you made of your first interview with 
Mr. Gladstone, which interested us extremely. I think your con- 
versation was very satisfactory. I, too, am afraid that he will fail 
and that the scheme is impossible, but there is no doubt that he 
is most thoroughly in earnest and that he knows the immense 
responsibility he has taken upon himself and does not conceal 
any of the difficulties from himself, I am glad Lord Harrington 
spoke so plainly to him. It is strange Lord Spencer should have 
changed his views so much since May. Mr. J. Morley I know, 
and he always struck me as a clever, learned, cultivated man, 
decidedly quiet and serious and without vanity. That Mr. Glad- 
stone should not be blind about Mr. Chamberlain and Sir C. Dilke 
is also a good thing. 

In short from the paper you so kindly sent, and which I much 
admire, the lookout seems a little better than I feared. " To 
examine " the wishes of the Irish people is no doubt a sacred duty. 
But the two millions that clamour and that are in a state of 
organised revolt, and under the tyranny of Mr. Parnell and his 
followers are not all Ireland! and I am sadly afraid that there is 
no satisfying these, and if they were satisfied it would be mischief, 
misery, rum and injustice to all the others ! The Irish-Americans, 
the Fenians, the irreconcilable ** invincibles ", etc., are not to be 
won over by mere legislation, distribution of land, etc. The Irish 
196 



FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 1878-1886 

question seems to me to be composed of two elements. The one, 1886 
that of evils that can be remedied and of reforms which are just 
and in accordance with the times, and would work well and be 
a benefit to the country. The other element is an evil which 
only force can overcome. Lawlessness and violence is a form 
of war and only can be met by taking up the quarrel, but the 
strife is not one with all Ireland, or with the Irish people it is 
with that portion or faction who will not keep the peace and 
who force war upon England with or without reason. The less 
reason they have, the more justifiable is force in putting them 
down. Therefore the Government can solve the problem by con- 
scientiously sifting the question to the bottom and seeing where 
still an evil remains which can be remedied by peaceful methods. 
It will strengthen England's hands for the struggle if there is to 
be one. 

War with America was once prevented and dear Papa worked 
harder than anyone to stop it, and war with the disaffected part of 
the Irish population may be avoided by striking a blow at the 
terrorism, which enthralls so many who are powerless to resist. 
A more difficult problem was never put before a nation! It puts 
to the test our constitutionalism, our national temper, common 
sense and energy, our political understanding and our statesmen! 
But no question was ever so bad that there was not some road out 
of it, and I trust it will be found. Is Mr. Gladstone the genius to 
find it or is he not? there is the question. I do not dare give an 
opinion on this as I really do not know! The will, the earnestness 
of purpose, the readiness, the sacrifice, yes! but he has taken some 
steps and expressed some views where one feels one cannot agree, 
nor see the wisdom of them, and where one can only share Mr. 
Goschen's, Lord Harrington's, the Dukes of Bedford's, Argyll's 
and Westminster's objections. 

You must indeed feel the keenest anxiety, but you have done 
all you could, all that was fair and right and wise, and must now 
trust that good will come out of it! I cannot say how much I 
feel for you and share all your doubts and fears and anxieties, but 
being sanguine by nature I am never without hopes and the com- 
position of the Cabinet certainly offers many a comforting feature. 
You will miss Lord Salisbury much, I am sure. I hope Lord 
Rosebery will prove a good Foreign Secretary, and his nomination 
is a thing to be thankful for. . . . 

197 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1886 A fortnight later (February 19, 1886) the Crown 
Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

... I wonder why a special commission of inquiry on Irish 
affairs composed of a junction of Liberals and Conservatives of 
course with the exclusion of the Parnellites could not be called 
to examine thoroughly all that is so dark and complex still in the 
question, and propose to the Government means of reform and 
pacification with the fixed and decided intention of never giving 
way to Parnell, Fenians, Socialists, Anarchists, Americans and 
priests and Home Rulers, etc., and of restoring law and order and 
respect for authority. 

One does not feel confidence in Mr. Gladstone being perfectly 
certain as to what he may and will not do ; in so knotty a question 
if one is already determined as to what cannot be done it clears 
up the problem, and it is easier then to find what is and ought to 
be done. If the advanced Radicals contemplate the possibility of 
an alliance with anarchists, to carry measures of reform, all other 
parties should combine against them. 

I also admire many of Mr. Gladstone's great qualities very 
much, but should be utterly unable to follow him blindly, as the 
stable and steady elements seem so wanting in his composition, 
and just at present these qualities are so indispensable if one is to 
feel confidence in his policy. I own mine is very small. 1 

In the following July Mr. Gladstone, faced with over- 
whelming parliamentary difficulties, resigned. Lord Salis- 
bury for the second time took the helm of the vessel of 
state to steer a course vastly different from that of his 
democratic predecessor. 

1 Mary Ponsonby, p. 252. 



198 



CHAPTER VIII 

PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG 

MARRIAGES, especially love matches, are a constant source 1886 
of trouble to parents. Difficulties may and do arise be- 
cause of differences in temperament, family feuds, or even 
financial settlements, and with a royal family not only 
are these risks multiplied, but there is the added terror 
of international politics and diplomatic considerations to 
complicate matters. The Machiavellis of Europe see in 
an apparently normal betrothal a golden opportunity of 
grinding a political axe or of carrying out some coup that 
may alter the whole trend of politics. Under such circum- 
stances, princes or princesses who have become engaged 
find themselves converted into pawns on the international 
chess-board and made instruments of political intrigue. 
It was such a series of events that converted the happy 
engagement of Prince Alexander of Battenberg with 
Princess Victoria, the daughter of the Crown Princess, 
into a European complication which threatened at one 
time to involve the resignation of Prince Bismarck, and 
had the disastrous consequence of widening the breach 
that had unfortunately appeared between the Crown 
Princess and her eldest son. 

It was in the May of 1886, when Prince William was 
suffering from an inflammation of the ear, that for the 
first time the Crown Princess complained to her mother 
of his distant behaviour : 

199 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1886 . . . Dr. Bergmann [she wrote on May 25] thinks Willy will 
go on all right, and is quite content. Dr. Trautmann continues to 
make out that it is most serious and that two or three days ago it 
was even very dangerous, and both agree that great care must be 
taken to get the ear thoroughly well. Bergmann does not think 
the inflammation need ever return, and could find nothing amiss 
with the drum ; he says there is no need for any operation what- 
ever, that the inflammation had gone down and there was no more 
matter or discharge, pressure on the brain or any other uncom- 
fortable symptoms. Willy is allowed to be out and to walk in the 
garden, but is ordered to keep very quiet. We met him in the 
garden and I thought him looking all right. He did not con- 
descend to remember that he had not seen me for two months, or 
that I had been to England and to Homburg, or that his sisters 
had the measles. He never asked after them or you, or any of my 
relations in England, so that I felt hurt and disappointed as I had 
been tormenting myself so much about him. He is a curious 
creature I A little civility, kindness and empressement go a long 
way, but I never get them from him. However, now he is not 
well I will certainly take no notice of his strange want of thought- 
fulness. Still, it is very painful to a soft-hearted Mama to feel so 
plainly that her own child does not care whether he sees her or no, 
whether she is well or ill, or away, etc. Dona is most devoted to 
him and never leaves him for one minute ; they seem very happy 
and contented together. 

This letter emphasises the fact that in the years since 
Prince "William's marriage there had been a cooling-off of 
affection and even a growing antipathy between the son 
and the mother. Prince William, whose political tend- 
encies led him into paths unfrequented by his mother, 
had now cut himself adrift from all parental authority 
and was beginning to show an increasing disrespect 
for his mother which hurt her as only a son can wound 
a parent. Before long the seeds of an open quarrel were 
only too manifest even to outsiders. The immediate 
cause of the difference was the Crown Princess's desire 
that her daughters should marry, as Prince William had 
200 



PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG 

done, for love rather than for reasons of state, and when 1879 
it became evident that she favoured Prince Alexander of 
Battenberg's desire to marry her daughter Victoria, the 
views of mother and son conflicted. Not only the Crown 
Prince and Princess, but also Queen Victoria viewed 
with approval the Prince's suit ; on the other hand, there 
was an early undercurrent of opposition which both 
Prince Bismarck and the Tsar of Russia encouraged. 
The reason was not far to seek. 

The Treaty of Berlin had created a new state, that of 
Bulgaria, which, while still under the nominal suzerainty 
of the Sultan, was regarded by Russia as being bound to 
her by ties of race and religion. The choice of a first 
ruler for the infant state awakened bitter animosities, and 
it was the Tsar's nominee, Prince Alexander, who was 
finally elected in April 1879. Prince Alexander, then a 
handsome and attractive youth of twenty-two, was the 
second son of the Prince Alexander of Hesse and inti- 
mately known to the Crown Princess. His eldest brother, 
Prince Louis of Battenberg, was a great friend of the 
Prince of Wales, and married in 1884 Princess Victoria 
of Hesse, the daughter of the Crown Princess's sister 
Alice. Another brother, Prince Henry, also became re- 
lated to the Crown Princess later, for, in 1886, he married 
Princess Beatrice. 

Immediately after his election to the Bulgarian throne 
Prince Alexander paid a series of visits to the various 
European courts. At Berlin he found Bismarck "very 
kind ", and in London (June 1879) he found a firm friend 
in Queen Victoria, who liked him and thought him 
"sincere and honest". It was during this tour that 
he made the acquaintanceship of the Crown Princess's 
daughter Victoria, who was then seventeen years of age. 

201 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1885 Prince Alexander, who was called in the family 
" Sandro ", had no sooner taken up the actual burden of 
sovereignty than he showed that he would be no catspaw 
of Russia, but would rather encourage Bulgarian aspira- 
tions towards complete independence. In the September 
of 1883, now the virtual dictator of Bulgaria, he definitely 
opposed Russian influence by dismissing Colonel Redi- 
gher and other Russian officers. The Crown Princess 
wrote immediately to Queen Victoria, urging that it was 
most important that England should support and en- 
courage Prince Alexander. Queen Victoria sent the letter 
to Lord Dufferin (November 18, 1883), the British Am- 
bassador at Constantinople, whose representations re- 
sulted in peaceful relations being re-established between 
Bulgaria and Russia. 

1885 Two years later, in 1885, the projected marriage of 
the Princess Victoria to Prince Alexander was vigorously 
promoted by the Crown Princess, at first in secret. But 
the moment the project came to the ears of Bismarck 
(June or July 1885), who favoured the King of Portugal 
as the Princess's husband, it was doomed. 

As soon as I heard of it Pie told Busch three years later] I made 
representations to the Emperor, verbally and in writing. He 
allowed himself to be convinced by the reasons I adduced, and 
refused to give his consent, although she said the Princess loved 
him. Of course, he is a handsome man, with a fine presence ; but 
I believe her nature is such that she would accept any other suitor, 
providing he were manly. Moreover, that is entirely beside the 
question. We must look at the political objections and dangers. 
The old Queen is fond of matchmaking, like all old women, and 
she may have selected Prince Alexander for her grand-daughter, 
because he is a brother of her son-in-law, the husband of her 
favourite daughter, Beatrice. But obviously her main objects are 
political a permanent estrangement between ourselves and Russia 
and if she were to come here for the Princess's birthday, there 
202 



PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG 

would be the greatest danger that she would get her way. In family 1885 
matters she is not accustomed to contradiction, and would immedi- 
ately bring the parson with her in her travelling bag and the bride- 
groom in her trunk and the marriage would come off at once. 

Prince William took the side of Bismarck, and the 
first open quarrel between the Empress and her son was 
kindled by this flame. 

It had even come [Ludwig relates] to an exchange of rings 
between the girl and this Battenberg Prince, when Bismarck inter- 
posed on the Tsar's behalf, and instantly found Prince William on 
his side. A violent scene between mother and son ensued at the 
beginning of 1885 ; it was thought desirable to remove him from 
Potsdam. 1 

For the moment, the opposition of Bismarck and the 
aged Emperor prevailed ; but the Crown Princess did 
not lightly relinquish her project, and determined to 
strengthen Prince Alexander's position in Bulgaria. In 
November 1885 war broke out between Servia and Bul- 
garia, but in the following month peace seemed probable, 
and on December 5, 1885, the Crown Princess wrote to 
Lady Ponsonby : 

The Eastern question does look a little brighter, I am happy to 
say. I am heart and soul with the Bulgarians, and hope for an inde- 
pendent, united Bulgaria in the shape of a kingdom, and un- 
shackled by Russians or Turks. The people deserve and the Prince 
deserves it, and it would be a very good thing for Europe, as it 
would prevent the Russians from continually meddling and in- 
triguing in this Eastern question and would leave poor old Turkey 
to die a natural and, I hope, a painless death, without fresh con- 
vulsions, horrors and bloodshed. Russia would have to swallow 
it, and Austria too. German public opinion would highly approve 
of it in every way. I think England would have cause to rejoice 
and France and Italy would not mind. These are my private 
opinions. Of course, they cannot be proclaimed on the house- 

1 Ludwig, Kaiser William IL p. 15. 

203 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1885 tops, as the Government and Diplomacy here are obliged to study 
Russian susceptibilities and not to oppose her in any way. . . - 1 

1886 Three months later peace was signed between Servia 
and Bulgaria. Eastern Roumelia was now virtually 
(though not nominally) joined to Bulgaria, and Prince 
Alexander was appointed governor of the province for 
five years. On March 4, 1886, the Crown Princess wrote 
to Lady Ponsonby : 

I am still very, very anxious about Bulgaria. But, thank God! 
the Peace is now signed. Few people in the world have gone 
through what Prince Alexander has had to struggle with in every 
shape and form. My admiration for him increases every day. As a 
patriot, a soldier, and a statesman, he has shown an energy, patience, 
perseverance, modesty and moderation such as one has rarely seen 
and which one can only find in the perfect gentleman. And he 
owes it to himself alone, as he has hardly anyone about him with 
whom he could share the responsibility. He deserves to be success- 
ful and to be happy. May he be so! I tremble for his safety and 
for the difficult time he will still have to fight through before his 
enemies learn to let him alone and do him justice, and before his 
country and his own position are safe from the plots and intrigues 
which are still so rife against them. He and his cause indeed de- 
serve sympathy and support from all well-minded people, and it 
is only the wilfully prejudiced who can find anything to blame 
in his conduct, or those under the direct influence of the lies and 
calumnies of his bitter enemies. 2 

In the summer of 1886, however, the Tsar's long 
account with the youthful ruler, who had dared to defy 
Russian aims, was ready for presentation, and negotiations 
began between Russia and Turkey for the cession of part 
of Prince Alexander's territory to Russia. The Crown 
Princess was full of sympathy for the young ruler, and 

1 Mary Ponsonby, p. 250, December 5, 1885. 

2 Ibid. p. 256, March 4, 1886. 
204 



PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG 

her attitude is plainly indicated by the following letter 1886 
to her mother dated May 15, 1886 : 

We have heard from the F.O. at Berlin today that the news 
from Bulgaria is bad and that the Russians are agitating most 
violently and that behind Sandro's back they are treating with the 
Turks for the cession of the harbour of Burgas to Russia. Perhaps 
it might be advisable to warn him of this danger. It is a thing 
which his own country would never forgive, if he allowed the best 
harbour to be ceded to the Russians. This seems the method they 
are adopting to upset him and drive him away. Besides it is also 
said that his Ministers are more or less playing him false and the 
form in which the union has been obtained is considered by them 
em Misserfolg, eine Niederlage, and that they wish to make him 
alone answerable before the country for this. They wish to take 
away all the Roumelian officers before the elections, as they are 
also so much for Sandro. This all sounds bad. Most likely you 
have the same news, but it is worth while being watchful and 
giving him a friendly hint perhaps, if possible. His position is very 
difficult, painful and dangerous. Meanwhile the Greeks seem com- 
ing to their senses and one hears Alfred spoken of with much praise 
as understanding his work so well. The blockade is already having 
a good effect. 

Meanwhile, M. de Giers, who had become Gort- 
chakoff's assistant at the Russian Foreign Office in 1875 
and was already marked out as his successor, had planned 
a visit to Franzensbad to see Bismarck. The Crown 
Princess dreaded such a meeting, and wrote to her mother 
on May 29, 1886 : 

All these speeches in Russia, at Sevastopol, Moscow, etc., are 
very disquieting, I think, and yet if the Emperor of Russia is not 
prepared to make war, now, and invent a pretext, I do not see 
what the Russians mean to do. They have evidently tried all the 
means in their power the worst and most treacherous to upset 
Sandro and make a revolution in Bulgaria, and without obtaining 
the result they expected! The Greek and Turkish affair seems 
coming to a peaceable end, though there are no plums for them to 
pick out of that pie. They say Giers is coming to Franzensbad and 

20J 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1886 will pay a visit to Prince Bismarck at Friedrichsruhe. I sincerely 
hope nothing will come of this, as it has always made mischief when- 
ever these two have met. Wladimir and Mischka are at Berlin to- 
morrow, but I shall not see them, as we are obliged to entertain 
all the gentlemen of the Exhibition Committee here tomorrow. 

It interested me very much to hear what Sir W. Jenner said 
about Willy's ear! I see him every day and he is doing all right, 
but has been much more amiable, friendly and civil, also more 
cordial these last days. . . . 

On July 6, 1886, Russia suddenly repudiated the clause 
of the Treaty of Berlin under which Batoum, on the 
Black Sea, had been declared a free port. Lord Rosebery, 
the British Foreign Secretary, at once made a protest, but 
British influence in foreign affairs had reached so low an 
ebb that the protest was disregarded. A few days later 
Lord Rosebery and the other members of the Liberal 
Cabinet resigned, the general election of that month 
having given Lord Salisbury and the Conservative party 
a majority over all parties in the British parliament. 

A month later, on August 8, the two Emperors of 
Austria and Germany met at Gastein. To the amazement 
of the Crown Princess, the Crown Prince was not invited 
to be present, but her son William, however, managed 
to find his way into the conference. Three days later the 
Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

I hear from a perfectly undoubted source that my poor fat friend 
at Petersburg * on being asked about Lord Rosebery's note about 
Batoum said " Yes, he had received something, mau rien qui valait 
la peine d'fore commwique ". I suppose he did not wish Germans 
to know what sort of note it was ; but that Germans happened to 
know, or guess, that an important and decided note was coming 
or had come. 

"We are rather horrified at hearing that William was at the 
interview of the Emperors at Gastein and that he is going to 

1 Sir Robert Morier. 
206 



PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG 

Skerniewski to see the Emperor of Russia I It is perhaps not true, 1886 
but as such things are always arranged between the Emperor and 
William without consulting or informing us, it may be, and I 
need hardly say that it would make endless mischief and do endless 
harm. William is as blind and green, wrong-headed and violent 
on politics as can be. He swears by Reuss VII. who is such a silly, 
conceited and false individual Russian down to his fingers' ends. 
It is really rather hard upon us, and our position a very painful 
one. I still hope it may not be. 

Lenbach, the celebrated artist, is here and will be in England 
next month! Will you please allow him to see the pictures at 
Buckingham Palace ? Prince Eugene of Sweden paid us a visit 
here yesterday. The Emperor arrives tomorrow morning. 

P.S. Prince Lobanoff told Reuss VII. that the Czar was quite 
tired of the Bulgarian question and that he had said if the Bul- 
garians really chose to get on without Russian protection they 
were welcome to it and had better try. This is not true! The 
Emperor's animosity is more active and violent than ever! It was 
only said to take in Reuss VIL, which it did. 

A fortnight later the animosity between the Tsar and 
Prince Alexander came to its climax. On August 22 the 
young ruler was kidnapped at Sofia by Russian officers, 
carried off to Keni Russi in Russian Bessarabia, and soon 
afterwards compelled to abdicate at the pistol's point. 
He was permitted to return to Bulgaria a week later when, 
broken in health and spirits, he submitted to Russia, and 
on September 4 announced his intention to abdicate. On 
the 8th he left Sofia with simple dignity and on the 25th 
General Kaulbars, the Russian Commissioner, arrived, and 
began a policy of intimidation. Five days later, M. Tisza, 
the Hungarian Prime Minister, declared for the main- 
tenance of the Treaty of Berlin and Bulgarian independ- 
ence, and this declaration stiffened the attitude of the 
Bulgarian Regents and the premier, M. Radoslavoff, who 
now began firmly to resist Kaulbars. Russia's reply was 
to send warships to Varna and to land soldiers at that port. 

207 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1886 Was ever anything so exasperating [wrote the Crown Princess 
to her mother from Portofino on October 5, 1886] as the way 
Kaulbars goes on in Bulgaria? One did not give the Russians 
credit for so much stupidity, in spite of all their slyness and wili- 
ness! They will set the whole population against them, which 
would be a very good thing ! I hope no new Prince will be elected, 
or, if a candidate of Russia's be chosen, that Europe will not accept 
or recognise him. I hope the Russians will find themselves in a 
regular hornets' nest. Their behaviour is too outrageous. . . . 

Nor did the attacks on Prince Alexander in the Berlin 
press give the Crown Princess any occasion for any 
change of feeling : 

The attacks [she wrote on October 23, 1886] of the Berlin 
official press on Sandro continue it is mean, and shameful, 
besides utterly ridiculous. It is, of course, to flatter the Tsar, and 
the great man (Bismarck), and impress our Emperor, but no one 
else believes or listens to it in Germany. 

To think of poor Sandro being held up as a danger to Germany 
an enemy to peace and the only cause of disturbance in Europe!! 
whereas the only disturber is Russia, and Russia alone! Why 
not admit it, and admit that one is obliged to humour Russia from 
fear, instead of making such far-fetched inventions to excuse and 
explain one's policy? I think it shabby and nasty, and so do many 
others. All this is very tormenting. 

The Crown Princess was even more shocked when, 
on November i, the Russian officers who had kidnapped 
the Prince were released, and it became evident to all the 
world that Russia was acting and had acted with a cynical 
disregard for treaties or morality. The Crown Princess 
was roused to anger at these indignities, and wrote to her 
mother from Portofino on November 8 : 

... I was sure you would think it monstrous as I do to liber- 
ate those treacherous, abominable conspirators in Bulgaria, the 
Russians having thereby the insolence and barefaced audacity to 
proclaim to the world what at least one thought they would have 
wished to conceal, that the shameful dastardly plot against Sandro 
208 



PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG 

was of their making and carrying out! So much the better that it i88<5 
was not invented by Bulgarians I Russian officials are capable of 
any infamy, that is not new! 

The Hungarian speeches seem very good. Amongst other 
things, the Czar must be terribly misinformed. I suppose a word 
of truth never reaches his ears so-called absolute monarchs are 
always dupes, consequently less free in their actions while yield- 
ing to their own caprice without restraint or consideration of any 
kind. They are pushed by those who know how to excite them! 
Tyrannical and violent as he is, I suppose he is the tool of the 
Panslavists and of all the lying officials in his service. And it is to 
this that the rest of Europe seems to bow at this moment. It does 
seem rather humiliating, but I trust it will not last. 

"What a time of it these unfortunate Regents are having. 

In spite of Queen Victoria's indignation at the action 
of " the barbaric, Asiatic, tyrannical " Tsar, as she wrote 
to Prince Alexander, 1 the British Government reached the 
conclusion that Great Britain had no direct interest in 
Prince Alexander's misfortunes. The declining influence 
of Great Britain in Europe at this period was reflected in 
the Crown Princess's letter to her mother of February 7, 1887 
1887 : 

We have heard from Petersburg, that the Czar speaks with 
utter contempt of England, saying England had already quite with- 
drawn from European politics and was too weak to take any part 
in them, and was not to be feared in any way. Other Russians 
say there is not a single gun on board a British man-of-war that 
can be fired off, and not a single musket in the British army or navy 
that had a proper bayonet, that they were all only imitation steel 
and could not be used ; that the English ammunition was useless, 
as it did not fit the guns, and the whole of the English army 
administration so bad that it would break down if England dared 
to go to war ; the British lion had no teeth, etc. . . . 

The Persian Minister at St. Petersburg said that British influence 

1 E. C. Corti, Alexander von Sattenberg^ sein Kampf mit dem 
Zaren und Bismarck (Vienna, 1920), p. 267, where Queen Victoria's 
whole letter is given in a facsimile reproduction. 

P 209 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 was completely gone in Persia (this is not quite untrue) and 
that India would not be long in British hands ; the prestige was 
gone, the disaffection and discontent great, and the Army not to 
be relied on. 

It makes one so furious to hear all this. It is never so dangerous 
to be underrated as overrated, and perhaps it is not a bad thing 
that the Russians should underrate us so much. 

Yesterday people seemed a little less alarmed about war ; but 
the anxiety is still very great. 

The Conservative Government of Lord Salisbury, 
which had replaced Mr. Gladstone's Liberal ministry in 
18865 now, however, began to take a great interest in 
European affairs, which, by March of 1887, became so 
overcast as to threaten a storm. Austria and Russia were 
at loggerheads over the question of their respective in- 
fluence in the Balkans. 

It was while this question loomed so threateningly 
over the European sky that there came to Berlin the 
Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria, the Emperor Francis 
Joseph's heir, who had married, in 1881, Princess 
Stephanie, second daughter of King Leopold II. of Bel- 
gium. "Whilst in the German capital he had a series of 
conversations with the Crown Prince and Princess of 
Germany, and it was after one of these that the Crown 
Princess wrote to Queen Victoria (March 17, 1887) : 

Today Rudolph had a very interesting long conversation with 
Fritz and with me! He said that he thought a war was inevitable 
(which we do not). He spoke of the intense desirability of a 
close understanding between England, Germany, Austria and Italy. 
He seemed very anxious about the good understanding between 
Austria and England, and said that the Austrian government 
dreaded not being able to secure some sort of useful understanding, 
as though Lord Salisbury might be willing, yet English cabinet^ 
changed so often, and with them the policy of the country, that it 
made it so difficult to rely on England's help and her word. He 
210 



PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG 

repeated that Count Kalnoky (the Austrian Minister of Foreign 1887 
Affairs) was most English in his feelings and sympathies that 
Sir A. Paget (the British Ambassador) had a most excellent posi- 
tion at Vienna and was very much liked there! Rudolf seemed 
to think Count Karolyi (the Austrian Ambassador in London) so 
baisse that he was of no use at all, and would not be ambassa- 
dor for many months longer. Rudolf complained that the older 
official men in Austria had so the habit of being deferential to 
Russia that they forgot the exigencies of the present moment, and 
he feared it was so here too, which, of course, we did not deny! 
In the war, which Rudolf seems to think impending, he said that 
if England would only assist in the Black Sea and keep the Turks 
in order, preventing them from joining the Russians, the service 
they would render would be immense! He very reasonably said 
that in a war one could not do any serious damage to Russia 
provinces could not be taken from her, etc., the only positive 
result that could be obtained would be to prevent her from gaining 
her own ends and having her own way. He seems to think that 
Russia will attack Austria in Galicia, and that it is all-important 
Italy should promise to keep quiet and not attack or harass Austria, 
so that the latter need not leave a soldier on the Italian frontier, 
but take all the men she has to the north. Rudolf thinks England 
could render inestimable service in keeping Italy in order, .4. 
seeing that she keeps her promises, as Italy's cabinets also changed 
very rapidly and policy was very variable. 

Rudolf thinks that if Germany helps Austria against Russia, 
the French will instantly attack Germany and that the coming war 
will be extremely serious! He thinks France far stronger, better 
armed, better prepared and more patriotic than she was Russia 
also far more fit for fighting than she was during the Turko- 
Russian war, but so shamefully governed and so fermented with 
discontent that this alone made the Government anxious for war, 
in order to create a diversion. 

Rudolf says there is no denying that at this present moment 
Russia played the first fiddle in Europe, and was the strongest power 
and imposed her will on the rest ; and that this would remain a 
constant danger, as she could get France to join her whenever she 
liked. The only thing that could keep them in check was the 
Alliance of the four other powers above mentioned! Rudolf says 
that the Sultan distrusts England and Austria and is afraid of them, 

211 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 while he has a great leaning to Russia and liking for Russians and 
the Czar, which Rudolf had plenty of opportunity of noticing 
while he was at Constantinople. 

Rudolf says his father is still perfectly furious with the conduct 
of the Russians in Bulgaria he himself thinks as Fritz and I do. 

I was unable to perceive anything of his idea of the Donaureich 
which I have repeatedly heard is his hobby. He spoke with 
marvellous clearness, intelligence and common sense and is quite 
aufait of everything and has been entrusted with different messages 
to Prince Bismarck. He is quite aware that his views tally more 
with ours than with our Emperor's or Willy's. 

Meanwhile, search was being made for a new ruler for 
the throne of Bulgaria. On April 22, 1887, the Crown 
Princess wrote to her mother : 

Do you think it is true that Ferdinand of Glucksburg has been 
lighted upon as candidate for the throne of Bulgaria ? We hear that 
it is a close secret, and that a Prince has been found, though it is 
not known who. So much seems certain, that the poor Bulgarians 
are in such straits that they will jump at a Prince who is in any 
degree eligible and then keep him. As Ferdinand is the first cousin 
of Minny, it might be possible that he has been thought of. ... 

There was an idea of Sandro's marrying Culma! 1 and she it 
was who would not hear of it, because she heard that the children 
would have to be Greek, which she thinks sinful. William was 
very cross with her, and called her a goose j he had a great admira- 
tion for Sandro in those days. If a Prince is found and accepted, 
of course, all the Powers will be too glad to approve of him and 
keep him there I But then, also, the dream of Sandro's returning 
is over for ever! This is always urged by many who are dying 
to see him return in triumph and become King, but still I think 
he was right in refusing to go now. It would have been an awful 
risk! Goltz Pasha says (but this only in confidence) that the Sultan 
cannot bear Sandro, distrusts him and considers him the cause of 

1 Princess Victoria Frederica Augustine Mary Caroline Matilda, 
elder of the two younger sisters of Prince William's wife. Princess 
Victoria married in 1885 Duke Frederick Ferdinand of Schleswig- 
Holstein. 
212 



PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG 

all evils and troubles, expenditure and uncertainty to the Porte 1887 
and does not wish him to return! How far this is the work of 
Nelidow, one cannot know! What does Sir William White say on 
the subject? As Sir W. White and Goltz Pasha are friends, I 
suppose Sir W. White could only say the same. Prince Bismarck 
would prefer anyone to Sandro and any lady to a German candi- 
date. He does not scruple to say that his policy is quite changed 
since the Treaty of Berlin, when he boldly crossed Russia's plans 
and went in for a Bulgarian principality which he thought would 
develop into an independent state. He was glad then that it was a 
German Prince! He advised Sandro to accept! Now, says Prince 
Bismarck, the situation is entirely changed for Germany. Then, 
France was nowhere, but now he considers France strong, and 
very well armed, and he knows how easily a Franco-Russian 
Alliance could be made!! He is right therefore in not offending 
Russia, and in humouring her where he can, where he seems to me 
to be wrong is in thinking that he can buy her friendship by any 
sacrifice he could make! He is also wrong in allowing her to 
strengthen herself, which she would if she got Constantinople and 
the Black Sea via Bulgaria. 

Europe has been very short-sighted, since she seems to think 
that by dropping the Bulgarians altogether and leaving them to 
their fate, she can prevent awkward questions from being raised 
and can avert war. This seems to me a miscalculation. If Prince B. 
had been anstandig he would have let Sandro know (because he 
was a German) that Germany's position had altered, her policy 
with regard to Bulgaria would be changed and he and his country 
abandoned, instead of which Sandro was left to find that out 
for himself at the risk of losing his life! This was more than 
nasty in a statesman who had encouraged Sandro to go there! 
If he had advised Sandro openly and kindly to leave to re- 
turn to Germany and throw up the game, as the Russians were 
determined to crush him, and Germany was determined not to 
interfere, Sandro could have retired when he pleased, instead of 
being ruthlessly sacrificed to the treachery and wickedness of the 
Russians and now ill-treated at home to please them and, as it were, 
justify Prince Bismarck's conduct in his own eyes towards his 
victim! He furthermore tries to justify his conduct by accepting 
every ridiculous lie and calumny against Sandro! This does not 
blind impartial people, however, though it pains those who admire 

213 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 and love Sandro very much. Russia, it seems, is turning her eyes 
towards Egypt and Afghanistan, and seems to think it the best 
and most promising field for mischief of her own kind and liking. 
The state Russia is in seems to be a very unsatisfactory one to say 
the least. I do not know what Morier writes, but we hear people 
are quite prepared for fresh attempts on the Emperor's life. 

We are rather shocked at Kaulbars (the Russian Commis- 
sioner in Bulgaria) having received such a mark of favour from 
the Emperor of Austria. It looks much as if those were right who 
say that Kalnoky is very Russian and terribly afraid of Russia. 

To return to what you said in your letter about Ernst Gunther j 1 
it distresses me much that he shows so little gratitude and proper 
feeling towards Christian and Lenchen who have done so much 
for him, and that he thinks only of himself and not at all of his 
cousins. It is not at all nice and so surprising in the son of Fritz 
Holstein! Not more surprising and painful, though, than that our 
son should be as he is ; forget all love and gratitude and let himself 
be used as a tool and instrument against his parents! William has 
more brains than Ernst Gunther and can be very nice and amiable 
when he likes! Vain and selfish they both are, and they both 
hold the most superficial rubbishy political views rank retrograde 
and chauvinist nonsense in which they, in their childish ignorance, 
are quite fanatical, and which makes them act as they do, each in 
his way. It pleases the Emperor, Bismarck and his clique and the 
Court, so they feel very tall and very grand! Bismarck is a great 
man, and you know that I am always ready to give him his due in 
all things and try my best to get on with him in every way, but 
his system is a pernicious one, which can only do young people 
harm in every way to admire his blind followers and admirers 
and the many who wish to rise by a servile and abject pandering 
to his every wish and whim. These are all William's friends now, 
and he is on a footing of the greatest intimacy and familiarity 
with them! It is easy to see how bad and dangerous this is for him 
and for us! Exactly what we knew it would be, when the Emperor 
and Bismarck overrode all Fritz's objections, all his entreaties. 
William's judgment is being warped, his mind poisoned by this! 
He is not sharp enough or experienced enough to see through the 
system, nor through the people, and they do with him what they 

1 Duke of Schleswig-Holstein. 
214 



PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG 

like. He is so headstrong, so impatient of any control, except the 1887 
Emperor's, and so suspicious of everyone who might be only a 
half-hearted admirer of Bismarck's that it is quite useless to attempt 
to enlighten him, discuss with him, or persuade him to listen to other 
people, or other opinions ! The malady must take its course, and we 
must trust to later years and changed circumstances to cure him! 
Fritz takes it profoundly au tragique, whilst I try to be patient and 
do not lose courage! It is after all a very natural consequence of 
the Emperor having enforced the contrary of all we wished and 
thought salutary for William, and the natural consequence of 
Bismarck's omnipotence. I hope you will not take any notice of 
this when you see William and be as kind to him as usual the 
reverse would do no good, he would not understand it^ and only 
put his back up. As you live so far away you are not censee 
to know all this. I think and hope his visit to England may do 
him a deal of good, as he is fond of being there and has been far 
too little I He would be delighted to travel, see India, America, 
China and Australia, but the Emperor will not let him. It would 
be excellent for him. 

April 23. 

I really ought again to apologise for writing so much about 
ourselves, but one's pen runs on when one thinks of the kind 
and sympathetic spirit of the one to whom one's words are ad- 
dressed. The dream of my life was to have a son who should be 
something of what our beloved Papa was, a real grandson of his, 
in soul and intellect, a grandson of yours. Waldie gave me hopes 
of this his nature was full of promise from the first, and I saw 
it with such pride and pleasure, and thought I could one day be 
of use to him I He is gone! and I can be of but limited use to 
Henry, and of none to William in any way! But one must guard 
against the fault of being annoyed with one's children for not 
being what one wished and hoped, what one wanted them to be. 
One must learn to abandon dreams and to take things as they 
come and characters as they are one cannot quarrel with nature, 
and I suppose it knows best, though to us it seems cruel, per- 
verse and contrary in the extreme. But it ends in one's feeling 
somewhat solitary at times! 

To return to Prince Bismarck, he has so much that is brutal 
and cynical in his nature, so little that is noble and upright, he is 
so completely a man of another century than ours, that as an 

215 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 example or an ideal he becomes very dangerous. He is a patriot 
and is a genius, but as a school there could not be a worse one! 
Opinions such as William holds are very much the fashion now- 
adays in Germany they have half created the immense power 
Bismarck possesses and he has half created them. But they are 
only a phase in the development of Germany! I think a dangerous 
and an unwholesome one, as they are a bad preparation for the 
solution of all the grave and difficult questions which will have 
to be the work of the next 20 or 30 years. 

Mr. Gladstone, the Home Rulers and Parnellites are also a 
strange spectacle. The Government have a very difficult task before 
them! Mr. Bright wrote an excellent letter a few days ago, I 
thought. 

A week later (April 29) the Crown Princess, who had 
not abandoned all hope of Prince Alexander regaining his 
throne, wrote to Queen Victoria : 

If only the Regency could go on governing for a time in Bul- 
garia, and if only the miscreants could be punisjiejd, the Constitu- 
tion modified and in time the Kingdom be proclaimed, then Sandro 
could go back. But how can he if he is confronted by difficulties 
which make it impossible to govern with success and which he has 
no legal means of overcoming ? One could not advise him to begin 
with a coup d'etat. Would the Russians swallow this without 
war ? Would the other States hasten to recognise the new state of 
things and in some sort of way guarantee its not being upset again 
or is it impossible ? Do you think this will and can develop in 
the next few months ? If he is not interfered with and the inner 
difficulties are arranged before he returns, by a military dictator or 
something of the kind, then I am sure he could maintain himself, but 
not unless. Of course Prince Bismarck will not care for or encourage 
this solution as Bulgaria is indifferent to him and he hates Sandro, 
but for all that, whatever good comes out of such a situation will 
be reaped by Germany, England, Italy and Austria} They cannot 
and must not officially suggest further or push such a thing, as it 
would force Russia for her honour's sake to abandon her present 
passive attitude, and that would mean general war; but if the 
Bulgarians could work it out themselves quietly and it then be 
accepted, it would surely be the best that could be done. Russia 
216 



PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG 

would have to digest her disappointment if she would not make war, 1 887 
and all the others would be satisfied. Prince Bismarck's attitude of 
friendship towards Russia, of course, forbids his even giving this 
thing so much as a thought. He would never give either official 
or unofficial advice to the Bulgarians or to Sandro, and on this 
question keeps completely aloof, as it is the one with which he 
can easiest oblige the Russians without sacrificing anything he 
cares about! I only think that all this obliging is no use and of no 
avail and that die Russians will do just what they please and ally 
themselves with the French whenever they think convenient. At 
present the good understanding between the other Powers makes 
them think the moment inopportune! If ever Russia and Germany 
become enemies, then Bulgaria becomes of the greatest importance, 
and it is this eventuality that our best military men always keep 
more in their mind's eye than Bismarck does they all still look 
to Sandro and value his military reputation and talents and his 
Statesmanship and consider him a trump card, for such an oppor- 
tunity which may however never come. 

April 30. 

I have every reason to believe that there are people at Darm- 
stadt who are very ill disposed towards Sandro and his brothers, 
and who encouraged Henry in the Auffassung of the Emperor, 
Empress, William, Louise of Baden and Bismarck, which he has 
very strongly. This is very tiresome, and a hard trial to poor 
Moretta. 1 

A postscript which the Princess added sheds a little 
further light on her opinion of Bismarck. Eight days 
earlier, M. Schnabele, the French Commissary at Pagny 
railway station, was arrested when within a few yards of 
the German frontier, and imprisoned at Metz. There was 
at once a great outcry in the French press over this 
indignity, but the Crown Princess was not apprehensive 
of any ill results. 

In the Schnabele affair [she wrote] I think Prince Bismarck will 
be very mild and conciliatory and not irritate the feelings of the 
French purposely. When he likes to be versohnlick he can, as he 

1 The Princess Charlotte. 

217 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 was in the affair of the Caroline Islands with Spain, but it simply 
depends on his own will and caprice. 

The Princess was right, for that day (August 29) M. 
Schnabele was released, and the affair ended. 

In the preceding month, on July 7, Prince Ferdinand, 
the youngest son of Prince Augustus of Saxe-Coburg and 
Princess Clementine of Bourbon-Orleans (known to the 
Princess as " Aunt Clem "), was elected Prince of Bul- 
garia by the Bulgarian parliament. The great powers all 
decided not formally to recognise his sovereignty, and his 
position from the outset was somewhat difficult. 

The Bulgarians [the Crown Princess wrote on September i] 
will soon realise that with the best intentions Ferdinand is not like 
their Hero Prince, to whom they behaved so badly and whom 
they must ever miss. 

Her sympathy with Ferdinand's predecessor had indeed 
in no wise diminished. On October 17, 1887, she wrote 
to Queen Victoria : 

How I envy your seeing Sandra ! I am so glad to think he is 
with you ; I am sure it must do him good au physique et au moral. 
Please tell me how you think him looking and whether he is in 
good spirits! 

In the following month the Tsar visited Berlin, and 
the subject of Bulgaria came again under discussion. On 
November 29, 1887, the Crown Princess wrote to Queen 
Victoria : 

What a row there is now at Berlin about the visit of the Czar 
and Bismarck's conversation, his threats and hits against the 
court and against the Orleans family! I should not wonder if 
Bismarck had tried to fling a stone at Sandro to please the Czar. 
The "whole business is neither pretty nor dignified, and I am heartily 
glad we are not in the midst of it, but it is very bad for Willy. 
218 



PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG 

Bismarck's uncompromising attitude to Prince Alex- 1888 
ander did not, however, appease the Tsar and his minis- 
ters, who were still determined to bring Bulgaria entirely 
under Russian influence. In the event it seemed as if war 
might break out again between Turkey and Russia over 
the question of the principality, and on January 5, 1888, 
the Crown Princess wrote : 

Politics are not in a very quieting state, but still I hope and 
think that war will be avoided. I think that Prince Bismarck 
is at a great deal too much pains to prove to Russia that he 
has no interest in preventing her from doing what she likes in 
Bulgaria I Russia might have known that long ago, if she had 
chosen, and if she does not choose to know it, or believe it now, 
all the dirt Prince Bismarck is trying to throw at Ferdinand and at 
the poor Orleans family will be of no use, and is so much pains 
lost, just as all the infamies and treachery and calumnies, the 
indignities he allowed to be heaped on poor Sandro's innocent 
head, have not brought Russia's friendship as they were intended 
to do!! These " middle age " fashions of treating politics I cannot 
admire, and in the i^th century it is hardly the thing to take a leaf 
out of the book of the Medici. I do love honesty and plain dealing, 
fairness and simplicity, and one does so sigh and long and pine for 
itl! One is so sick and weary of a system which stoops to means 
which are so low, even be it wielded by ever so great a man, 
and be its success and brilliancy worshipped by a crowd of short- 
sighted admirers, who, their national vanity being flattered, fancy 
themselves great patriots, while the standard of national sentiments 
and aspiration is being lowered and deteriorated. How long, how 
long, will all this last!!! I suppose it is to outlast us and our 
lifetime!!! Prince Bismarck's power and prestige are greater than 
ever, the poor dear Emperor is but a shadow, and Willy is Prince 
Bismarck's willing tool and follower! " A quelque chose malheur 
est bon." 

Russia was now becoming more and more exasperated 
with Bulgarian nationalist aims, and it was evident that 
unless the powers signatory to the Treaty of Berlin could 
bring diplomatic pressure to bear upon Russia, there was 

219 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 risk of a second attempt being made to dominate the 
Bulgarian ruler. On January 8 the Crown Princess 
wrote : 

I hear from the best sources that Prince Bismarck is doing all 
he can to prevent war, in every way, and is intensely anxious for 
England to show her determination actively to support the three 
allied powers, Germany, Austria and Italy. Prince Bismarck also 
disapproved of the talk about Fritz's resignation, etc., and equally 
of William and Dona having attended the Stocker meeting. I do 
not believe in a war! I think that if Russia sees so many arrayed 
against her, she will draw in her horns and not plunge into so 
unsafe an adventure. . . . 

The Emperor is not quite well, having one of his attacks again, 
which, though not dangerous, are very painful, I fear, and weaken 
him. Bernhard has returned from Meiningen, where the sorrow 
for his Grandmama is deep and universal. ... I wonder whether 
all those things are in the eyes of B. ridiculous " quixotry ". 
What we have suffered under this regime ! ! ! How utterly corrupt- 
ing has his influence been on his school his employes, on the 
political life of Germany 1 It has made Berlin almost intolerable 
to live in, if one is not his abject slave!! His party, his followers 
and admirers are fifty times worse than he is! One feels as if one 
would like to send up one great cry for deliverance and that if it 
were answered, one great deep sigh of relief would be given. Alas, 
all the mischief wrought would take years to repair!! Of course 
those that only look at the outside aspect of things see Germany 
strong, great and united, with a tremendous army (in time of war 
near three millions of men!), a Minister who can dictate to the 
world, a sovereign whose head is crowned with laurels, a trade that 
is making an effort to outdo all others, the German element making 
itself remarked everywhere in the world (even if not loved or 
trusted). They cannot think we have any reason to complain, but 
only to be thankful. If they did but know at what price all this is 
bought! Perhaps you will think I am only croaking! 

A week later, January 14, she wrote : 

... I do hope and trust that Europe will not be so foolish 
as to try and oblige Ferdinand to leave Bulgaria. It would be 
22O 



PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG 

only inviting Russia to take possession of the country, which 1888 
would really be iniquitous. Why should that unfortunate country, 
which has become emancipated only so lately, be forced back, 
under the yoke of Russia, by united Europe ? How sad to see the 
whole work of Sandro's life undone again his heroic efforts to 
free his people made useless. One cannot have much sympathy 
with Ferdinand, still if the Bulgarians like to have him and he can 
manage to maintain himself and is ready to stay, what right has 
Europe to upset him, and what interest in doing Russia's bidding 
and fetching the chestnuts out of the fire for her ? Russia wants 
to have Bulgaria, is afraid of getting into a big war, consequently 
wishes the others to help her! Le., assist the great and the oppressor 
against the smaller and the weaker! It would be a real shame. I 
cannot conceive England or Italy doing such a thing, or Austria 
either 1 Germany's policy has been so mean and so cynical through- 
out that I should not wonder if she advised putting the country 
under Russian rule altogether little she cares for the legitimate 
aspirations of a small nationality. Still I fancy she would never 
interfere very actively. Russia has only two ways of possessing 
herself of Bulgaria, the one is by a military occupation which means 
war, the other would be the often-tried method of conspiracies 
and of stirring up risings, etc., through secret agents, and by bands 
of Montenegrins or Macedonians, as now at Burgas, but the Bul- 
garians seem well able to cope with these attempts to overthrow 
their Government! 

I wonder what Sir William White says now and what the Turks 
will do? The Russians have barred their own road to Con- 
stantinople by their own bad behaviour to the Bulgarians. It would 
be strange indeed if some of the Great Powers cleared the way for 
them again and removed this obstacle. Do you not think so too ? 
Morier is in England now and most likely would not be of my 
opinion. 

I do not think we shall have a war. The Czar does not wish 
for one and Prince Bismarck is doing all he can to prevent it; the 
French are also quieter now. 

In the early days of 1888, Lord Randolph Churchill, 
a friend of the Prince of "Wales, paid a visit to St. Peters- 
burg with a view to finding some possible means of paving 

221 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 the way to an Anglo-Russian understanding. He went 
entirely in an unofficial capacity, and his entire visit 
seemed to the Crown Princess to be somewhat "ill- 
advised ". At Berlin en route. Lord Randolph met Sir 
Robert Morier, the British Ambassador to St. Petersburg, 
who was then on leave. Sir Robert warned the self- 
appointed emissary of England against any discussion on 
the international situation with authorities in Russia. The 
warning was ignored, and Lord Randolph interviewed 
not only M. de Giers, the Russian Chancellor, but also 
the Tsar, and expressed in unequivocal language his 
opinion that Russian and British interests were identical. 
His actions, which by no means met with Queen Vic- 
toria's approval, were now warmly denounced by the 
Crown Princess, who wrote on January 31 : 

I still think Lord Randolph Churchill's visit to Petersburg very 
mischievous! It is childish of him to speakof England's policy under 
the Liberal Government being friendly and loyal towards Russia. 
Russia is never loyal to anyone, and therefore it is impossible to keep 
to written agreements, or to be friendly ; though one need not be 
the reverse. One can only avoid offending Russia needlessly, never 
trust or believe her, and be always on the qui vive. I am afraid the 
loyal and friendly attitude towards Russia was due to weakness and 
indifference, blindness to real facts and an imperfect knowledge of 
the whole Eastern question, its direct and indirect bearing on our 
interests in India. Morier belongs to a school to which Lord R. 
Churchill evidently leans, who think that India is completely to be 
severed from the rest of the East and that what happens in the 
Mahommedan world of Turkey or the Eastern provinces under 
Russian rule in no way affects India. Such is not the case. I 
wonder that those who consider themselves the friends of the weak, 
the oppressed, of liberty and of civilisation, should be so ready 
to see die people of the Balkans thrust back against their will under 
Russian tyranny and oppression, should count for so little the 
danger of seeing Russian power extend over that part of the world 
to the detriment of Austria, to the detriment of the population of 
222 



PRINCE ALEXANDER OF BATTENBERG 

the Balkans and certainly to the detriment of our own power ! Why 1888 
should the rest of civilised Europe give way to Russia in every- 
thing ? The worst Government in the world and the most corrupt 
of States ! I cannot understand it! 1 Russia will not go to war if she 
sees that the rest of Europe (France excepted) mean to resist her. 
I hope Morier will do no more harm at Petersburg I It is very- 
likely he might be dangerous with Crispi at this moment ; any- 
thing which could spoil the good understanding between England 
and Italy would be a great danger. 

Lord Randolph's visit, however, did no great harm, 
and won the approval of the Prince of "Wales. Inter- 
national relations at this period, however, were not of such 
a nature as to be mollified by courteous phrases, especially 
with regard to the question of Bulgaria, on which the 
Crown Princess wrote on February 15 : 

Of politics I will say nothing only that Fritz thinks if any- 
thing so foolish is done as to attempt to put Bulgaria back under 
Russia's control against her will, by consent of the Powers, endless 
trouble will be the consequence. The development of this country's 
independence did not owe its origin to any initiative, or ambitious 
personal design on the part of its former Sovereign it was a 
thoroughly natural and popular movement (in spite of Prince 
Bismarck trying to represent it as the reverse in his speech). This 
movement was caused by the evil proceedings of the Russians and 
by their attempt to thwart everything that was done to secure a 
peaceful development of order and prosperity in that country 
an incessant war against the Government of that country, which 
at last exasperated the people, and has made them firmly determined 
not to be a Russian province any more than Greece, Servia or 
Roumania. Should the Liberal Powers therefore accede to Russia's 
demands (which she would make formally as soon as she thought 
they would be granted) they would be committing an iniquity in 
the first place and a blunder in the second. 

In the event no change was made in the status of 
Bulgaria for a decade, and then, in March 1896, the great 
powers, Russia included, formally recognised Prince 
Ferdinand as Prince of Bulgaria. 

223 



CHAPTER IX 

THE ILLNESS OF THE CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

1887 THROUGHOUT all the trials and tribulations that disturbed 
the life of the Crown Princess, there was one thing that 
she could count upon the love and sympathy of her 
husband. Their mutual affection had known no cloud, 
and it was with pleasant memories that they both looked 
back on the past, and with confidence and hope that they 
looked forward to the future. But there now appeared 
the first indications of those agonising events which were 
to destroy that beautiful serene happiness. It was in 
January 1887 that the Crown Prince, then fifty-six years 
of age, first began to suffer from hoarseness, and his 
Physidan-in-Ordinary, Surgeon-General Wegner, soon 
realised that it was sufficiently serious to warrant con- 
sultation with a specialist, with the result that Dr. Ger- 
hardt, Professor of Medicine at the University of Berlin, 
was called in, and he, on March 6, diagnosed a small 
growth on the left vocal cord, but was unable to say 
whether it was of a malignant nature or not. A fortnight 
later, on March 22, the Crown Prince, in making a speech 
on the occasion of the Emperor's ninetieth birthday, 
showed unmistakable signs of hoarseness. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Gerhardt, uncertain as to the nature 
of the " granula ", strove to remove it surgically. This 
treatment, however, failed, and he then burnt it down 
with the galvano cautery, but while, as the result of this 
224 



ILLNESS OF CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

operation or series of operations, the growth disappeared, 1887 
the hoarseness and some of the pain remained, and the 
Crown Prince was advised to go to Ems, whither he 
went with the Crown Princess on April 13. It was from 
Ems that the Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria 
on April 29 : 

... So many thanks for your kind enquiries after Fritz. His 
spirits are far better here than at Berlin, and his throat seems daily 
improving. All the irritation, swelling and redness is fast sub- 
siding, he never coughs, and has not the feeling of soreness, but 
part of the little " granula " which Professor Gerhardt could not 
take off with the hot wire, because the throat was too much irritated, 
is still on the surface of one of the Stimmbander and will have to 
be removed when we go home, then I think the hoarseness will 
quite disappear. Fritz now eats and sleeps and looks well. Of 
course he takes no long walks and does not go uphill so as not to 
fatigue or heat himself, and is asked to talk as little as possible. . . . 

On the Crown Prince's return to Berlin early in May, 
Gerhardt, however, found no signs of improvement : the 
hoarseness remained, and the wound was not healed. 
Professor Ernst von Bergmann, an eminent surgeon, a 
liberal in politics and a friend of the Crown Prince, was 
now called into consultation, and he expressed the opinion 
that the growth should be removed by a surgical opera- 
tion. A day or two later, on May 17, the Crown Princess 
wrote to Queen Victoria : 

... My heart is very heavy since this morning, as I find that 
the doctors, although satisfied with the general effect of Ems, 
which has taken all catarrh away, and satisfied with Fritz's health, 
now discover that the lump in the larynx is not a simple granulation 
on the surface of the mucous membrane which can be removed by 
touching with the electric platina wire, but that it is most likely 
a thing they call " Epithelion ", and that, if it is to be removed, 
it cannot be got at from inside the throat, as it may also exist 
under the larynx in a fold, where it cannot be reached. The cele- 
Q 225 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 brated surgeon, Professor Bergmann, is for operating from the 
outside, and you can imagine that this is not an easy operation or 
a small one. I own I was more dead than alive with horror and 
distress when I heard this. The idea of a knife touching his dear 
throat is terrible to me. Of course Fritz is as yet not to know a 
word about this. He is at times so very depressed . . . that he 
now often thinks his father will survive him, and I have fine work 
to make these passing sad thoughts clear away, which I am happy 
to say they do after a short while. 

Today the gentlemen consult again, and I am going to town to 
find out from them what more they think and have resolved. . . . 
My fear and dread is that a swelling of that kind, if not removed 
by some means or other, might in time develop into a growth of a 
malignant and dangerous character. I hope and trust and believe 
that there is no such danger at present. I do so hope that the views 
of Bergmann and Gerhardt are exaggerated. . . . 

Gerhardt and Bergmann now suggested an operation 
known as thyrotomy, involving the splitting of the larynx 
and the removal of the growth, but suddenly Bismarck 
intervened. 

. . . The doctors [he records in his Reflections] determined 
to make the Crown Prince unconscious, and to carry out the 
removal of the larynx without having informed him of their inten- 
tion. I raised objections, and required that they should not pro- 
ceed without the consent of the Crown Prince. . . . The Emperor, 
after being informed by me, forbade them to carry out the operation 
without the consent of his son." 1 

Bismarck now arranged for a further consultation at 
which the best specialist advice was to be called in, and 
this conference was attended not only by Gerhardt, Berg- 
mann and "Wegner, but also by Dr. Schrader, Surgeon- 
in-Ordinary to the Crown Prince, Dr. Lauer, Physician 
to Emperor William L, and Professor Tobold, a senior 
Berlin laryngologist. Their opinion, given on May 18, 

1 Reflections, p. 331. See also Sir Rennell Rodd's Social and 
Diplomatic Memories, p. 112 seq. 
226 



ILLNESS OF CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

was that cancer was present, and that the surgical opera- 1887 
don proposed by Bergmann should be performed. When 
Bismarck read this report and understood the gravity of 
die situation, he determined that the best expert in Europe, 
no matter of what nationality, should at once be sum- 
moned. Although strongly opposed to the Crown Prince 
in politics, and disliking intensely what he regarded as 
the " interference " of the Crown Princess in the affairs 
of state, he felt that all differences of opinion were but 
petty matters compared with this question of life or 
death. There were two or three such specialists recom- 
mended, one of whom was an Austrian and another was 
an Englishman Dr. Morell Mackenzie whose acknow- 
ledged eminence in laryngology was recognised by his 
colleagues. His deftness of touch and his manipulative 
skill were not the least of his recommendations, but he 
was, as after-events were to prove, perhaps a little in- 
discreet, over-sensitive and somewhat polemical. 

Much controversy has arisen as to who selected and 
sent for Mackenzie, and it was commonly supposed that 
the Crown Princess was responsible for the summons 
of the English surgeon to the bedside of her stricken 
husband, and the fatal termination of the disease soon 
afterwards has been seized upon to place her in a wholly 
false position before history. " Her distrust of German 
therapeutics ", to use the words of a recent German 
historian, Dr. Emil Ludwig, " has come to be regarded 
as largely responsible for his tragic and untimely end." 
The foundation for this erroneous view is to be found in 
statements circulated in the German press at that period, 
and in such subsequent testimony as that of Dr. Henry 
Semon, who quotes the private diary of his father, the 
late Sir Felix Semon. According to this last version, the 

227 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 Crown Princess asked Dr. Wegner who he thought was 
the greatest throat specialist; Dr. Wegner, in reply, 
pointed to Dr. Mackenzie's text-book, which had been 
translated into German and prefaced by Sir Felix Semon, 
who paid a great tribute to Mackenzie's skill. The Crown 
Princess then, according to the Semon version, despatched 
a telegram to Queen Victoria and requested her to arrange 
for the attendance of the English surgeon forthwith, and 
at the Queen's request Sir James Reid, her physician, left 
Osborne for London to interview Mackenzie. In a letter 
to The Times, dated January 25, 1928, Dr. Henry Semon 
then goes on to relate that his father's unpublished manu- 
script states that " when Reid had delivered his message, 
Mackenzie showed him the cable he had received from 
the German physicians, which requested him to start 
immediately for Berlin'*. Sir Felix Semon also adds 
about the Crown Princess that, during her interview with 
Wegner, " when she had finished reading my preface to 
the German translation of Mackenzie's book, she com- 
manded Wegner to press for a consultation with Mac- 
kenzie", and the result was the official telegram to 
Morell Mackenzie from the German doctors. 

There is, however, another version which appears to 
be much nearer the truth. Sir Rennell Rodd, in a review 
of Emil Ludwig's Kaiser Wilhelm //., published in The 
Times of December i, 1926, questioned the accuracy of 
several statements in this book. In proof of his conten- 
tion, Sir Rennell Rodd relates how the Crown Princess 
had come to luncheon at the British Embassy early in 1887 
in order to attend a christening and how, when the conver- 
sation turned to the Crown Prince's illness, Sir Edward 
Malet suggested the possibility of obtaining another 
opinion and the Crown Princess had in reply expressed 
228 



ILLNESS OF CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

her ignorance as to who were the best authorities. Almost 1887 
immediately after luncheon, however, Bismarck paid a 
visit to the Ambassador and while conversing about the 
illness said that arrangements had been made for a 
British specialist to come to Berlin. There seems, there- 
fore, no possible doubt that at luncheon that day the 
Crown Princess did not know of the existence of Morell 
Mackenzie, and further that the British specialist's original 
summons came from the German doctors at the prob- 
able instigation and certainly with the full approval of 
Bismarck. 

Dr. Emil Ludwig, however, refused to accept this 
evidence, which was founded on the recollections of a 
Secretary of Embassy after forty years had elapsed, and 
preferred the general consensus of the German medical 
authorities supported by Bismarck. It happens to few 
men to be able to refute so completely the misrepresenta- 
tions of an adversary as Sir Rennell Rodd was able to 
do, when he published in The Times of January 18, 1928, 
the following letter, written on November 14, 1887, by 
the British Ambassador to Count Herbert Bismarck in 
execution of a desire expressed by Queen Victoria that 
he should counteract the circulation of stories injurious 
to the Crown Princess by emphasising " the well-known 
fact " that it was the German doctors themselves who 
sent for Mackenzie. Sir Edward Malet's letter ran : 

DEAR COUNT BISMARCK Will you kindly glance your eye at 
the passage which I have marked in this evening's Nordd&utsche 
Allgemeine Zeitung ? You will see that to the Queen of England 
also is to be attributed that the Crown Prince was committed to the 
care of the English specialist. The context indicates that the word 
" also " means that the other person was the Crown Princess. Now 
as a matter of fact, of which I am sure that you are aware, the Crown 
Princess had nothing to do with calling in Sir Morell Mackenzie, 

229 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 still less the Queen. The report that the Crown Princess sent for 
him originally is doing her great injury, and is devoid of truth. 

Would it be possible, with reference to this paragraph, which 
gains credence through appearing in the semi-official paper, to state 
authoritatively in the same paper, or in the Reichs An%eiger> that 
Mackenzie was called in by decision of the physicians attending the 
Crown Prince, and that the Crown Princess was not even consulted, 
and that certainly the Queen of England had nothing to do with it ? 
I am sure your chivalry will make you feel as I do about these 
statements. 

Believe me to be, etc., 

E. B. MALET. 

From a note appended to this draft [continues Sir Rennell 
Rodd] it appears that Count Bismarck spoke to the Ambassador 
about the matter the following day. He took the view that it was 
not certain that the Crown Princess might not have suggested 
Morell Mackenzie and that there was a danger of making matters 
worse by publishing a statement which the German doctors might 
dispute. He undertook, however, to speak to his father to see if 
anything could be done. The Ambassador's positive statement that 
the report was devoid of truth was justified not only by his con- 
versation in the previous May with the Crown Princess, when she 
said that she did not know who were the great throat specialists, 
but also by what the Chancellor himself had told him at the time. 
But his appeal to a sense of chivalry for the correction of a state- 
ment devoid of truth . . . remained without effect, and the legend 
received confirmation without protest . . . 

One further testimony must be considered : in the 
official report of the illness of the Emperor Frederick 
published in i888 ? it is made clear that the name of 
Morell Mackenzie was first put forward by "Wegner and 
accepted by Gerhardt and Bergmann. 

On the essential point all versions agree, that the first 
request that Morell Mackenzie received to attend the 
Crown Prince came to him from the German doctors, 
and it was on this request that he acted?- 

1 See Sir Felix Semon's Memoirs, p. 148, and Sir Rennell 

230 



ILLNESS OF CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

The next day. May 19, the Crown Princess, who then 1887 
knew that the German doctors had telegraphed for the 
English specialist, wrote to Queen Victoria : 

... I was over yesterday at Berlin to speak to the doctors, 
and Bergmann told me that he would not decide on performing 
the operation before Morell Mackenzie has given his opinion, but 
that if Morell Mackenzie viewed the case exactly as he did, the 
operation would take place at once. Fritz will not be told until 
just before the moment. . . . 

I spent a terrible day yesterday ; it is so difficult to appear un- 
concerned when one's heart is so torn, and it is so important he 
should eat and sleep and feel well up to this moment. . . . 

. . . All the doctors say that Fritz has been quite rightly treated 
till now, and are satisfied that no time has been lost and that 
nothing else could have been done, and that Professor Gerhardt 
was the right authority to go to. I cannot telegraph much, as 
already the talk and gossip at Berlin is considerable and people 
are worried at Fritz's not appearing at the parades, etc., and one 
does not wish to make an unnecessary stir. Of course, if M. M. 
arrives soon, we will make him write to you and Sir W. Tenner, 1 
so that you are kept informed. I am not so frightened about 
danger to Fritz's life ; thank God, I do not apprehend that, nor that 
this swelling is of a cancerous kind, nor does Bergmann, who says 
when once it is taken away, he does not think it will return ; but 
I am so distressed to think that his dear voice, which is so necessary 
to him in his position in the country and army, etc., will be gone, 
and I know it will be an awful trial to him. . . . 

On the evening of the 2oth, Morell Mackenzie arrived 
at Berlin. After a preliminary but careful examination, 
he announced that he was not sure that an operation was 
necessary, and asked that a fragment of the larynx should 
be removed and submitted to microscopic examination 

Rodd's Social and Diplomatic Memories, vol. i. p. 112 seq. Also 
correspondence in The Times, December i, 1926; January 18,21, 
23, 25, 1928. 

1 Queen Victoria's Physician-in-Ordinary. 

2 3 I 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 by Professor Rudolf Virchow, a man of European reputa- 
tion as an anthropologist and pathologist. That evening 
the Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria from Berlin : 

Dr. M. Mackenzie says he cannot advise an operation before 
being quite sure that this growth in the throat is a malignant one! 
He still has his doubts. He will not give a decided opinion until 
he has seen more of Fritz, and thoroughly examined the throat 
again. He will endeavour to detach the smallest fragment from 
the growth and will have it examined under the microscope by 
Professor Virchow, so that its nature may be established from this 
he will then advise what is to be done! Oh how relieved I am ! 
I shall be able to sleep tonight and look at my darling Fritz without 
the agonising thought that tomorrow may be the last we have to 
spend together. I bless Dr. M. Mackenzie. Of course I know the 
operation may yet have to come off! 1 

Prince Bismarck came to see me this afternoon and was really 
very nice! He said his wife sent me word I was not to allow such 
an operation. I said I had nothing to allow what the responsible 
authorities decided on as the best, we should have to submit to, 
and we were bound to follow their advice. 

The Emperor has sent for the doctors : 

1. Prof. Bergmann. 

2. Prof. Gerhardt. 

3. Dr. Tobold (Specialist for Laryngoscopia). 

4. Dr. Wegner. 

5. Dr. Lauer (Emperor's physician). 

6. Dr. Schrader (Wegner's remplofant). 

They are obliged to ask the Emperor's permission for so serious 
an operation and to tell him the whole, as they cannot tell Fritz. 
I am sure the Emperor will not take it in, nor understand one word. 
They have also sent for the Haus Minister and have written to the 
Empress! 

I can say for certain that the German medical gentlemen seemed 
much less anxious to hurry on the operation after they had talked 
with Dr. M. Mackenzie than before they had seen him! It seems 
he did not know what he was called for and did not therefore, 
unfortunately, bring his instruments with him! 

We spend the night here and go back tomorrow after Dr. M. 
232 



ILLNESS OF CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

Mackenzie has tried to obtain a little portion of the growth, which 1887 
is very difficult and may not succeed until the fourth or fifth 
trial 

On the following day Mackenzie made another exam- 
ination ; this time removing a tiny portion of the larynx 
which he submitted to Virchow for investigation. Vir- 
chow was unable to discover any sign of cancer, but 
expressed the opinion that the fragment was too small, 
and that another should be taken. It was now that the 
views of Mackenzie and some of the German doctors 
diverged. Bergmann and Gerhardt maintained that the 
clinical signs indicated cancer. Mackenzie could not agree 
until there was proof positive. 

The next day, May 22, 1887, the Crown Princess 
wrote to Queen Victoria : 

This morning "Wegner brought Virchow's report on the little 
fragment of the growth. He is unable to discover any sign of 
cancer, but the fragment was too small and another will have to 
be taken off tomorrow, which will be much more difficult, as the 
growth being reduced in size by the little bit taken away, there 
will be so little to lay hold of, and with the German instruments 
Dr. Morell Mackenzie cannot do it! His own which he has tele- 
graphed for arrive tonight at 10. Tomorrow morning he will try 
(only in Wegner's and Gerhardt's presence) to obtain the bit 
wanted. He still fancies that the growth is an innocent one until 
the reverse is actually proved by Virchow's examination and till 
then he strongly urges not deciding on this horrid operation! Of 
course the suspense is very trying to me, but I own die hope held 
out is a very great relief, and as I am sanguine by nature, I easily 
cling to it. ... 

I cannot bring myself to believe the worst, it seems too cruel! 
I fancy all this will come right somehow and only the remembrance 
of the scare remain, which was bad enough. 

This letter, written from a daughter to her mother, 
brings out clearly the attitude of the Crown Princess, 

233 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 and it may be well here to consider the causes which 
might have influenced her opinions. 

The German Emperor, William L, was already over 
ninety years of age, and in the natural sequence of life 
could not for long sustain the burden of sovereignty. 
The Crown Prince as his heir would, in the normal 
course of events, succeed him, but if that Prince were 
suffering from an incurable complaint that would render 
him incapable of exercising the power of the crown, then, 
it was argued by many, the Crown Prince should be 
passed over in favour of his son, Prince William. Already 
the dread word " cancer " was being whispered far and 
wide, and it was certain that if the malady were pro- 
nounced to be malignant there would be those who 
would urge that " a sovereign who cannot speak should 
not rule ". Rumours were circulated that the family laws 
of the Hohenzollerns excluded an heir to the throne who 
suffered from an incurable physical complaint, but these 
laws contained nothing of the kind, and the Crown 
Princess must have known that there was no such bar to 
her husband's eventual accession. On this point Bismarck 
spoke later with authority. "The family laws", he 
wrote, 1 " contain no provision on the matter, any more 
than does the text of the Prussian constitution." 

The Crown Princess had much of her mother's ten- 
acity of royal power, and there were those who after- 
wards did not scruple to say that during this period the 
Crown Princess was anxious that for these reasons the 
illness should not be diagnosed as cancerous, and that she 
impressed her views on Morell Mackenzie. Such a charge 
is baseless. There is not one jot or tittle of evidence in 
favour of such a slander. Mackenzie and the other doctors 

1 Reflections, vol. ii. p. 331. 

234 



ILLNESS OF CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

were given a free hand subject to the wishes of the patient, 1887 
and their opinions and treatment were unbiassed and un- 
influenced by the Crown Princess. All that the Crown 
Princess did, in fact, was to do what ninety-nine women 
out of a hundred, German or English, would have done 
in her place, and that was to place her reliance in the 
specialist who gave the greatest hope for the complete 
recovery of the patient. Naturally, she did not want to 
see the husband she loved subjected to an unnecessary 
operation, and it was with supreme joy that she received 
on the following day Morell Mackenzie's and Virchow's 
report to the effect that the second portion of the larynx 
removed showed no signs of cancerous growth. Upon 
this, the proposal to operate was abandoned, not, how- 
ever, without protests from those who had suggested it 
Professors Gerhardt and Bergmann. Gerhardt later 
alleged that during this operation Mackenzie had injured 
the healthy right vocal cord, an accusation which Mac- 
kenzie strenuously denied. Mackenzie was also accused 
of purposely taking a portion of the healthy side of the 
throat and sending it to Virchow, but it is quite incon- 
ceivable that a man of Mackenzie's reputation should do 
such a thing : nor does there appear to be any valid 
reason why he should thus wish to deceive wilfully Vir- 
chow and the Crown Princess. It must be remembered 
that at this period the incipient stages of cancer were 
difficult to recognise. Now it is known that there are 
diseases of a non-malignant nature that so closely resemble 
cancer that the greatest experts cannot tell the difference. 
Thus, at the time, even the most skilful specialist in this 
particular case could prove nothing, he could only main- 
tain or deny that cancer was present. Much of the differ- 
ence of opinion over the Crown Prince's illness had its 

235 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 basis in the fact that medical science was then in so 
rudimentary a stage with regard to these particular 
complaints that diagnoses were often barely more than 
guesswork based upon assumptions. 

In any case, Mackenzie and the two German doctors 
were now irremediably estranged and when doctors 
quarrel, the outlook for the patient is indeed gloomy! 

Mackenzie was now anxious that the patient should 
come to his clinic in England " like an ordinary mortal "/ 
and the Crown Princess approved the idea. On May 24, 
1887, she wrote to her mother : 

. . . We are much more hopeful and reassured about Fritz's 
throat now. His voice is completely gone for the present, and his 
throat feels sore and uncomfortable, but that is only from the little 
operation of taking a little bit from the growth, I hope to be able 
to tell you more in the course of a day, when Wegner, Gerhardt 
and their colleagues have considered Dr. Morell Mackenzie's views 
and proposals. He thinks he can cure Fritz quite well by treating 
his throat from the inside, but of course one cannot pull about the 
throat every day : it would do harm and set up general inflamma- 
tion, irritation, swelling, etc., and everything must be done to 
avoid this, and destroy the growth by degrees. If the other doctors 
come round to this opinion in consequence of Virchow's researches, 
then I think we need not be anxious any more, and only most 
careful and conscientious to effect the best cure possible. . . . 

Of course the public are very anxious at Berlin, as something 
of the dread we were in is beginning to transpire. 

Later. 

Gerhardt, Wegner and Dr. M. Mackenzie were quite satisfied 
with Fritz's throat this morning! There is to be one more con- 
sultation and then Dr. M. M. will go home. Wegner and the others 
want his advice carried out here and him to leave the treatment to 
Tobold. This I think will make a muddle, and it would be better 
for Fritz to go to Brighton, St. Leonard's, etc., and to have the 
treatment carried out by Dr. M. M, himself, but I dare not suggest 

1 Ballhausen, Elsmarcks Ermnerungen^ p. 390. 

236 



ILLNESS OF CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

this last, as it would annoy the people here and make them angry 1887 
with me. If they should propose it, then it would be another thing, 
but I do not think they will! 

Gerhardt says the treatment must be very slow and not hurried 
in any way ; and he would wish that M. M. should carry it out 
himself. I now leave it to them to settle their minds amongst 
themselves and shall not interfere with them. 

Gerhardt early expressed his opinion to the Crown 
Princess, who wrote on June 2 to Queen Victoria : 

I yesterday evening spoke to Prof. Gerhardt and begged him 
to tell me exactly what he thought! He told me : " Ich sehe die 
Sache von Woche zu Woche ernster an ! Das Stiickchen, welches 
M. Mackenzie fortgenommen, ist wiedergewachsen die Ge- 
schwulst ist in Eiterung iibergegangen, &c. jetzt ist auch die 
andere Seite des Halses, das andere bisher freigebliebene Stimmband 
ergriffen ein Substanz-Verlust ist schon vorhanden. Wenn nickt 
Dr. M, Mackenzie Jielfen und keilen kann, so giebt es keine Rettung 
ausser die Operation von ' Laryngotomie ' und zwar unter viel 
schlechteren Bedingungen als vor 14 Tagen! Also ist und bleibt 
meine ein^ige Hofrhung, dass Dr. M. Mackenzie recht behalten moge 
in seiner Auffassung, und dass es seiner Behandlung gelingen moge, 
denn wir haben nichts mehr vorzuschlagen." 1 

Of course you can understand that this makes me utterly 
miserable! Thank God, Fritz does not guess it and this will not 
reach the ears of the public unless the doctors talk, which I have 

1 Translation : " I regard the matter with increasing anxiety. 
Where M. Mackenzie removed a small portion it has grown again 
the tumour is suppurating, etc., on the other side of the throat, 
the other vocal cord, which hitherto has remained healthy, is 
attacked there is already a considerable amount of damage done. 
If Dr. M. Mackenzie cannot assist and cure it there is no chance 
of recovery save in the operation known as * Laryngotomy '. It 
would have to be performed under far less favourable conditions 
than would have been the case fourteen days ago. Therefore my 
only hope is that Dr. Mackenzie may be right in his opinion and 
that his treatment may be successful, for we have nothing else to 
suggest," 

237 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 implored them not to do! I keep it quite to myself, but I feel 
wretched, and my nerves are in a very shaky condition from the 
constant anxiety and uncertainty and the strain to appear perfectly 
unconcerned. The doctors wish Dr. M. Mackenzie to come here 
once more and have a consultation with them, and then we shall 
go to England and take Prof. Gerhardt with us for a short while 
and then one of the others will come in his stead to report on the 
course and result of the treatment and state of Fritz's health. I 
am having enquiries made about small quiet hotels near London, 
Chislehurst, Richmond, Surbiton, Hampstead, Sydenham, Wim- 
bledon, where we could go, so that Fritz was not in town, but 
could go daily to Dr. M. M., or see him daily. Fritz must not 
talk, so he must keep out of everyone's way! His one hope and 
wish is to be at Westminster Abbey on the 2ist [for Queen 
Victoria's Jubilee] and represent the Emperor. I have told the 
Emperor so yesterday! He agreed to this if the doctors allow it! 
If M. Mackenzie allows it, we can then go to Norris Castle the 
beginning, or near the middle of July! ... I hope from there to 
be able to appear at whatever Ftes you may wish to have me, 
but he must not ; it is very hard upon him, and he is terribly 
depressed, as he wanted to go about and see so many people and 
things in London and had so long been looking forward to your 
Jubilee! He is also terribly annoyed at William wishing to come 
forward so much and take his place without asking him, etc. 
However all this, painful, disagreeable and disappointing as it is, 
must be borne without a murmur, and so long as his throat gets 
right, and if Dr. Mackenzie's opinion and hopes and the promises 
he held out gain the day, we must be satisfied! . . . 

People here do not half like Fritz leaving the country on account 
of the Emperor's age, and yet he clearly ought to go to England 
and get himself cured by the only person who has said that he 
thinks he can cure him!! . . . 

Preparations were now being made in England for 
the celebration of Queen Victoria's Jubilee to com- 
memorate her fifty years' reign* The Crown Prince was 
determined to represent the German Emperor, although 
the suggestion had been made that Prince William should 
do so, and the Crown Prince thought that advantage 
238 



ILLNESS OF CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

might be taken of his visit to England to undergo the 1887 
treatment that Mackenzie had suggested. 

Meanwhile, the doctors still disagreed. Bergmann and 
Gerhardt clung to their opinion, and Mackenzie, sup- 
ported by Virchow's analysis, clung to his. The Crown 
Princess, the German Emperor and Empress, and Bis- 
marck himself all knew of this divergence : any one of 
them, with insistence, might have supported Gerhardt 
and Bergmann's opinion and have compelled an opera- 
tion. None insisted. Each of them left it to the doctors 
to decide what was best. The German doctors produced 
statistics to prove that the operation they recommended 
was successful in seven cases out of ten : Mackenzie 
believed he might be able to effect a cure in two months. 
With such an alternative before them can anyone blame 
the Crown Princess, the German Emperor and Empress, 
or Bismarck, for giving Mackenzie a fair chance? All 
acted in the best of faith and without arriere-pensee. 
When life is in danger all other interests are subsidiary. 

On June 3 the Crown Princess wrote to Queen 
Victoria : 

I am still struggling between hopes and fears, I cannot bring 
myself to believe that the German doctors are right! People tor- 
ment me with questions some say it would be my fault if anything 
happened to Fritz in England, etc. "Wegner is haunted by the idea 
that the swelling may suddenly in the course of a few hours grow 
so large that suffocation may be imminent and tracheotomy have 
to be performed instantly, that we should therefore not leave home! 
This fear seems to me exaggerated and the case highly improbable, 
but I am not a doctor! Others are again tormented by the idea 
that Fritz may be helpless in bed in England and the Emperor die, 
when he cannot be had!!! All these things are always possible, 
and one cannot be kept a prisoner here, or be prevented from 
following a useful course by the fear of what might happen. 

Dear old Roggenbach [Baron von Roggenbach, the Prussian 

239 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 representative in Frankfort] was here for two days and I cannot 
say with what touching and fatherly care he gave us his advice 
really so good and kind! He is most anxious for Fritz to go to 
England, and also thinks it would frighten and depress Fritz 
terribly if he were not allowed to go to "Westminster Abbey on 
the 2 1 st. He is full of grave apprehensions, but thinks happen 
what may the awful operation of Laryngotomy ought not to be 
allowed. It is too dangerous and if it succeeded would leave the 
patient a broken man! One other older and fatherly friend, to 
whose devotion I can trust, is excellent General W. von Loe 
he is a celebrated and eminent Cavalry General; by a curious 
coincidence and in spite of William being one of his followers 
and admirers, he well knows that it would be very dangerous, if 
such young heads suddenly took up the task left by an aged 
Sovereign of 90! People are disturbed, nervous and anxious and 
alarmed, and I shall be glad if Dr. M. Mackenzie comes and again 
finds it in his power to dispel all these fears! I have one instinctive 
feeling that they may not be founded on any real facts, but the 
doubt is very disagreeable and wearing, especially as it must be so 
carefully concealed from the dear patient, who is oftentimes much 
depressed. . . . 

I must ask a favour of you! Under the present circumstances 
and for the present, it would be the greatest relief to us if we could 
bring over all our private papers to England. Would you allow 
them to be locked up in the iron room leading out of dear Papa's 
Library at Buckingham Palace ? We should feel much happier. 
I can explain more when we meet. 

Mackenzie by now doubted the diagnosis resultant 
upon his early removals of minute portions of the larynx 
and now decided, without informing Gerhardt, in order 
to be perfectly sure one way or the other, that two further 
particles should be removed. Accordingly, on June 8, 
another operation was performed. The Crown Prince 
was now in excellent health and eagerly looking forward 
to his visit to London to take part in the Jubilee re- 
joicings. The day following this operation the Crown 
Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 
240 



ILLNESS OF CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

I can write to you today with a much lighter heart, as Dr. M. 1887 
Mackenzie sees no unfavourable symptoms in my darling Fritz's 
throat since he last examined it. He has removed two tiny particles 
of the growth and Virchow will again examine them! I hope then 
the Doctors, who are like St. Thomas the unbeliever, will at last 
believe that it is of a harmless nature! Of course, Mackenzie cannot 
swear that this benign growth may not become a malignant one, 
but he sees no reason to assume this! The only one thing which 
is in any way against the best prognostication is that Fritz is of 
an age in which growths are usually not of an innocent nature 
the harmless ones are pretty common with children and young 
people. . . . 

One is really driven half distracted with all these things. 

Virchow's report upon the particles removed in the 
second operation corroborated Mackenzie's opinion. 

In spite of the most careful examination [he reported] . . . 
no single portion was detected which has been pathologically 
changed sufficiently to make this worth mentioning. ... In this 
operation a more central portion (of the growth) has been gripped 
... the healthy condition of the tissues close to the cut permits 
of a very favourable prognostic opinion. But [he added] whether 
such an opinion would be justified concerning the whole of the 
malady cannot with certainty be determined from the two extirpated 
pieces. In any case there is nothing present in them that could 
arouse the suspicion of further and more serious disease. 1 

The relief of the Crown Princess at the pronounce- 
ment may be imagined. 

The scene of this tragic drama now moved to England, 
for it was hither that the Crown Prince and Princess 
journeyed for the dual purpose of attending Queen 
Victoria's Jubilee and of having the advantage of the 
treatment which Mackenzie had prescribed. Wegner and 
Landgraf (Professor Gerhardt's laryngological assistant) 
accompanied the royal party, which arrived in England 
on June 14. 

1 Sir Felix Semon's Memoirs, p. i ji. 

R 241 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1 887 When Queen Victoria passed in procession on June 2 1 
from Buckingham Palace to "Westminster Abbey, there 
rode in the cavalcade of thirty-two princes the towering 
Lohengrin-like figure in the white uniform, silver breast- 
plate and eagle-crested helmet, of the Crown Prince of 
Germany a tragic figure, outwardly the embodiment of 
princely grace and splendour, but inwardly conscious that 
if it was indeed cancer that had laid its stranglehold upon 
him, his span of life was drawing to a close. 

At the close of the Jubilee festivities, the Crown 
Prince and Princess spent two months in England first 
at Norwood, then in the Isle of Wight, then in Scotland. 
Whilst the Crown Prince was in England another doctor 
had been called into consultation Dr. Mark Hovell, 
senior surgeon to the Throat Hospital. Mackenzie was 
anxious that the Crown Prince's absence from the German 
court should now be prolonged, but the failing health of 
the nonagenarian ruler of Germany rendered his return 
to Berlin imperative unless events were to be left " en 
Tair " or in the hands of Prince William. The Crown 
Princess fought, as she herself expressed it, " tooth and 
nail" for the continuance of her husband's stay in 
England, As she wrote to her mother on August 30 : 

... I have received letters from influential persons from Berlin 
saying Fritz must come home, that his health was only the first 
consideration when it was a question of real danger to life, that 
he was not a private individual and therefore could not only do 
what was best for his health, that the Emperor might often be 
persuaded from attending to business, that affairs could not be left 
" en Fair " nor committed to William's hands, and that Fritz must 
therefore not leave Potsdam and Berlin. I shall have to fight this 
tooth and nail! It would be madness to spoil Fritz's cure while he 
is in a fair way to recovery, but not well yet! I know the life 
there, the fatigues, the constant calls upon us and duties without 
242 



ILLNESS OF CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

end!! He would never cure his voice. . . . The Emperor, the 1887 
Empress and Bismarck wish Fritz to be cured first, but I admit 
that they do not see or know all the reasons which have been put 
forward by these other people, the Generals, etc. ... It is rather 
hard that because the Emperor has constant little attacks Fritz is 
not to be allowed to get well in the proper way ! ! It seems to me 
sacrificing the future to the present. Fritz writes to me overjoyed 
that you have so kindly promised to knight Dr. Mackenzie he is 
especially pleased at this kindness of yours and very grateful. 

The fight which the Princess made to prevent the 
return of her ailing husband to the bustle and activity of 
Berlin was successful, and when, on September 3, the 
Crown Prince and Princess left England it was, on Sir 
Morell Mackenzie's 1 advice, to Toblach in the Tyrol that 
they went. Dr. Hovell alone accompanied them, but he 
was joined a few days later by Major Schrader, Surgeon- 
in-Ordmary to the Crown Prince. 

The Crown Prince and Princess had been accom- 
panied to England by the principal officers of their suites, 
and it was unfortunate that at Balmoral a quarrel broke 
out between the Crown Prince's Court-Marshal, Count 
Leszczyc de Radolin-Radolinsky and the Crown Prin- 
cess's private secretary and Court Chamberlain, Count 
Seckendorff. The quarrel had originated some five years 
earlier, when Radolinsky had been appointed to the 
Crown Prince's suite in order to watch Seckendorff* 2 
On September 9 the Crown Princess wrote from Toblach 
to her intimate friend Lady Ponsonby : 

... I am jo thankful to you for having given me this correct in- 
formation about Ct. Radolinsky's conversation at Balmoral. Count 
R. behaves in the strangest fashion ; and is more dangerous than 

1 He was knighted by Queen Victoria on September 2 at the 
request of the Crown Prince. 

2 See supra, p. 192. 

243 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 I can say. Curiously enough before I got your letter at Munich, I 
saw an old friend of ours, old Baron v. Roggenbach at Frankfort, 
and he told me that Ct. Radolinsky had been at pains to speak to 
all the Emperor's gentlemen at Ems in exactly the same strain, and 
the same words you write to me! My friend was quite disgusted. 

Of the vox populi against Ct. S , which Ct. R is so 

fond of speaking about, I can find out nothing. My friends say it 

does not exist, but that of course Ct. S has enemies! It is 

these who have got hold of Ct. R and taken advantage of 

Ct. R. J s credulity, of his excitability and of his irritation against 

Ct. S . The principal person who works in this direction is 

Ct Eulenburg! You know what a false, unscrupulous, ambitious 
man he is ; he owes Ct. SeckendorfFa grudge and wishes to injure 
him as he is very jealous of him ; and fears Count Seckendorff 
might prevent the Crown Prince from listening more to him in 
future. Count Radolinsky is sincerely attached to us, but he quite 
forgets it is not his business to take our affairs out of our hands 
and try to settle them as he thinks right and fit (out of devotion) 
behind our backs and against our will! If he has let himself be 
persuaded that it is for our good, he will dash violently into a 
thing, and use the least fair of measures to accomplish his ends 
without hesitation. How can he say " the family had asked him 
to speak to the Queen " ? Who are " the family " ? At Berlin they 
consist of the Emperor and Empress who are on our side and not 
on Ay, and our three eldest children who are oho on our side 
and not his! Therefore that is an inventionl What business of his 
is Ct. S.'s promotion or non-promotion? He is not his superior! 

I had a long conversation on board the yacht with Ct R . 

He referred to my letter to him, and said that he thought it very- 
hard and most cruell He said he had never spoken to any members 
of the English court on the subject, but they had asked him so 
many questions, and had forced the subject upon him. He had 
found so great a dislike and indignation against Ct SeckendorfF 
at the English court that he had not needed to add his own im- 
pressions ; it had only been a proof more to him of how widely 
spread Count S.'s bad reputation was!! I gave Ct. Radolinsky 
a piece of my mind, but whether I shall thereby stop him in his 
insane endeavours to get rid of Count S. I do not know. Ct Rado- 
linsky has been to Prince Bismarck about it, and has also begged 
Herbert Bismarck to work on his father and on our son William in 
244 



ILLNESS OF CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

this sense!!! Old Prince Bismarck does not go out or mix in the 1887 
world and is thoroughly dependent on the tales that are carried to 
him by his satellites, which he always implicitly believes. 

You will admit, dearest Mary, that this is not pleasant. It is 
what is commonly called a very nasty intrigue! Count R. is now 
at Berlin and here there is peace and harmony. . . . 

I miss beloved England terribly, more and more! the simple 
truthful ways the straightforward yet keen-sighted, manly men, 
the refined and intelligent women, the pleasant ways and kind hearts, 
the unchanging friends and dear memories of old! Germany has 
other charms and other blessings, but I often feel very solitary, and 
rubbed up the wrong way. I plunge into all the serious thoughts, 
books and pursuits I can, to steel myself with philosophy against 
the pricks and thorns that will make one sore even if one is deter- 
mined to rise superior to them. . . . 

It was at Toblach that the Crown Princess heard more 
of the intrigue and machinations for setting aside the 
Crown Prince in favour of Prince William. All these 
might have been countered and perhaps checked had the 
Crown Prince and Princess returned to Berlin, where 
Prince William and Count Herbert Bismarck, the son of 
the veteran statesman, were gaining in power and in- 
fluence every day. But her husband's health was the first 
consideration of the Crown Princess, who wrote to her 
mother on September 14 : 

You will remember how earnestly we wished William to leave 
Potsdam, so as to be out of the Berlin and Potsdam atmosphere, 
both socially and politically so bad for him, where he is flattered 
and spoilt, and makes the Emperor do everything he likes! All the 
older Generals were of our opinion. We hear today that William 
has frustrated all these attempts and plans and made the Emperor 
decide that he is to remain at Potsdam (which means spending half 
the day at the Foreign Office with the great man's son and satellites 
and the evening with the Empress). Fritz is much annoyed, and 
people write to him saying how necessary it is for him to be at 
Berlin, to be some little check on William! But Fritz cannot and 
must not go to Berlin. His voice is much hoarser again and the 

245 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 throat not so well, but it varies and today it is less red than 
yesterday! 

Whilst at Toblach the health of the Crown Prince 
appeared to improve, and in many journals, both British 
and German, Mackenzie was lauded as the man who had 
saved the Crown Prince from a dangerous and un- 
necessary operation. 

Preparations were now being made in Berlin to cele- 
brate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Prince Bismarck's 
appointment to the office of first minister. The Crown 
Princess regarded the " fuss " as somewhat exaggerated, 
and on September 27, on the eve of leaving Toblach, 
which was now proving too wet and cold for the invalid, 
to proceed to Venice, she wrote to Queen Victoria : 

We leave early tomorrow morning. Alas ! the weather has quite 
spoilt this afternoon, so that I fear our long drive tomorrow will 
not be pleasant and we shall see nothing of the beautiful country 
between here and Langoram, which is all new to me, and I was so 
anxious to see! This is very disappointing. . . . From Germany 
we hear that it is very cold everywhere, so that I am glad we are 
going south ! What a fuss has been made about the 25th anniversary 
of Prince Bismarck coming into office! More than one sad and 
bitter thought fills our mind when one thinks of the means he has 
used to achieve great things and of the havoc he has made of 
much that was precious, of good and useful men's lives and 
reputations, etc., and of the evil seeds he has sown, of which we 
shall some day reap the fruits. 

It is perhaps not his fault, he is un homme du mqyen age with 
the opinion and principles of those dark days when la raison du 
plus fort etatt toujours la meilleure and what was humane, moral, 
progressive and civilised was considered silly and ridiculous, and a 
Christian and liberal spirit absurd and unpraktiscL The young 
generation see his prestige and his success and are proud of it and 
like basking in the sunshine of his fame and celebrity. He has 
done very grand things and has unequalled power and unrivalled 
strength at this moment! Oh, if they were but used for the good 
246 



ILLNESS OF CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

cause, always one would be ready to admire and to bless him! He 1887 
has made Germany great, but neither loved, free, happy, nor has 
he developed her immense resources for good! Despotism is the 
essence of his being ; it cannot be right or good in the long run! 

Whilst at Venice the Crown Princess wrote to Lady 
Ponsonby (October 5) : 

... I wish you were here with us at Venice! How I should 
like to go about with you, and we should both never cease admiringl 
I have to bottle up my enthusiasm a good deal so as not to bore 
my fellow-travellers, who cannot share it. I am not able to enjoy 
things as usual, nor with as light a heart, as the Crown Prince is, 
of course, unable to be out much, and may not speak, though, 
alas! he will not obey the strict injunctions of the doctor, and 
refrain from using his voice more than a very little! It is very 
difficult in a town, and going about, which, of course, amuses and 
interests him. 

We are going to Baveno tomorrow and trust we may have a 
fortnight's fine weather. I miss the walks and the pure air, the de- 
licious pine-woods and splendid scenery of Toblach, even here, in 
lovely Venice. 

Dr. (Morell) Mackenzie is satisfied, on the whole, but evidently 
the tendency to catch cold and the delicacy of the throat are very 
great. The slightest thing causes swelling and congestion, pain and 
hoarseness, and, of course, retards and impedes progress. This 
makes the Crown Prince much more depressed, impatient and 
fidgety than he need be, and incessant letters from Berlin, impressing 
the " necessity " of returning to Germany, and the bad impression 
produced by our absence, are very galling. 

Count Radolinsky writes to me that people put the blame on 
me for keeping my husband away from home. I answered that 
I thought such criticism was as unjust and ignorant as it was 
spiteful and impertinent. " Travailler pour le rot de Prusse" is a 
good French saying, for I am weary of being constantly blamed 
and picked to pieces by people who have no right and no business 
to meddle in our affairs. Whenever anything is wrong, it does not 
matter what it be, it is put on my back. The court and official 
world find me a very convenient scapegoat. It is rather flattering 
in one way, as it shows they think me too good-natured to be likely 

247 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1 887 to pay them out one day. Most of these amiable people are not 
worth knocking down, even if one had the power of distributing 
a few coups de poing. Of kind and good friends I have so many 
in other circles that I really do not mind ; but at times I feel the 
ingratitude I meet with very bitterly, as I am conscious of trying 
to be as civil and courteous to everyone at Berlin as I can ; of 
trying to do a good turn to people whenever I am able, and of 
trying to please : but there are those who will not be pleased. I am 
an English woman, suspected of Liberal, of free-thinking and 
artistic tendencies ; of cosmopolitan and humanitarian sentiments 
and the like abominations in the eyes of Bismarck; so I am 
labelled " suspicious " and " dangerous " by the clique who are all- 
powerful now. I cannot help it. I keep as quiet and make myself 
as small as I can, but I cannot change my skin to please them, nor 
shall they tread me underfoot, as they would like to some day. 

After all, it is only sometimes that I boil over with annoyance, 
as I usually feel how much greater and better and more useful 
people than I am have been continually attacked and abused and 
more from ignorance than evil intention. So one ought to make 
every allowance for people's different tactics, views and opinions. 
" Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner ", and one must learn the 
hard lesson of being tolerant to the intolerant, which I try very 
hard to learn, . . - 1 

On October 6 the Crown Prince and Princess left 
Venice for a three weeks' stay at Baveno, near Lake 
Maggiore, where Sir Morell Mackenzie again visited his 
patient. It was from the " Villa Clara " at Baveno that 
the Crown Princess wrote on October 9 : 

Dr. Mackenzie left yesterday morning. He will write to Dr. 
Reid as soon as he gets home. He thinks Fritz getting on very 
nicely, but says it all depends on him and if he will not talk and 
avoid cold and damp he may be quite well in three or four 
months! Whenever Fritz's throat does not hurt him he is very 
unmanageable and gets very impatient of any restraint, but I hope 
he will be encouraged by the progress he is making in doing all 
the doctors beg him. . . . 

1 Mary Ponsonfy, pp. 258-259. 
248 



ILLNESS OF CROWN PRINCE FREDERICK 

It was here at Baveno that the Crown Prince and 1887 
Princess were visited by their son William, who, as the 
Princess wrote to Queen Victoria on October 17, " till 
now is very nice, amiable and friendly ". " Henry ", 
she added, " comes tonight, and I hope he will be nice 
too/' Apparently both sons were considerate and cour- 
teous, and refrained from expressing their doubts as to 
Mackenzie's ability as a doctor. 

Fritz [the Crown Princess added] promises to be good and not 
to speak. He is dreadfully annoyed by all the foolish articles about 
himself in the German newspapers! They are as tactless as they are 
impertinent and unfair! Most likely you have read them! He is 
going on quite nicely. Dr. Hovell is very clever and inspires me 
with the greatest confidence! 

The penultimate references were to a series of articles 
then current in the German press, possibly inspired by 
Bismarck, which hinted that the Crown Prince knew that 
his disease was cancer, but that on the ground that he 
wished to reign, did not want to be pronounced incurable ! 

The Crown Princess now wrote to her mother 
(October 25) : 

There is nothing new to tell you about Fritz beyond that at 
times his throat is a little more congested than at others! I think 
his voice has improved, it seems clearer and stronger to me, but 
he will not believe it! ... 

Meanwhile the aged Emperor was showing distinct 
signs of failure, but as yet no serious alarm was ex- 
pressed as to the state of his health. On October 31 the 
Crown Princess wrote from the Villa Clara : 

Fritz is hoarser again, but not from any cold, or any apparent 
reason the voice is better at times and then again less well. He 
is taken the very greatest care of and cannot well catch cold. The 
Emperor seems no worse, so that we are not alarmed about him. . . . 

249 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 The continued absence of the Crown Prince from 
Germany now caused more grumblings at Berlin, and 
when it became known that he proposed to stay at San 
Remo for a time, the dissatisfaction increased. On 
October 27 the Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

I am driven quite wild with the newspapers of Berlin and dear 
Ct. Radolinsky keeps writing that people are so angry with me 
for choosing San Remo and for not calling in another German 
doctor 1 Really it is excessively impertinent of these people! The 
Emperor would not have others forced upon him if he were satis- 
fied ; so why should we ? It is impossible for Fritz to be better 
treated and more carefully than he is! To disturb the treatment 
would be to run the risk of spoiling it. It would be too wrong. Pray 
say nothing about my having told you what Ct. R. wrote! You 
cannot imagine how spiteful and nasty people are and how I get 
teased and tormented! On the other hand there is so much real 
concern about Fritz's health and real love and devotion to him 
then one is glad to see people care so much and take it up so 
warmly. But there is a clique who are determined to find fault, and 
to criticise all and every thing and who are half jealous of his 
having an English doctor and living in an English house and think 
it a fine opportunity to have a fling at me! It is so foolish and 
narrow-minded and unreasonable! When one is only trying one's 
best to cure Fritz as soon as possible. . . . 

We leave on Wednesday, November 3rd, for San Remo and have 
taken the Villa Zirio belonging to an Italian, and built by him! 
I am sure Kanne could tell you all about it. It is very expensive 
but new and clean and pretty comfortable, I believe, which is so 
important for Fritz! . . . 

A few days later the Crown Prince and Princess left 
for San Remo with high hopes. Up to this point, 
Mackenzie's optimistic prognostications had been almost 
justified. No further bad symptoms had developed, and 
there were many hopes that the patient was on the high 
road to recovery. At San Remo, however, the third phase 
of the illness was to unfold its tragic events. 

250 



CHAPTER X 

SAN REMO 

THE Crown Prince and Princess had barely been 1887 
twenty-four hours at the Villa Zirio in San Remo when 
the most drastic change in the condition of the patient 
was noticed by Dr. HovelL The Crown Princess at once 
telegraphed for Sir Morell Mackenzie, who arrived on 
November 6, and thereafter never left his patient until 
the end. Mackenzie now at last realised that the disease 
was more serious than he had thought, and when asked 
by the Crown Prince if the malady were cancer, replied : 
" I am sorry to say, sir, it looks very much like it, but it 
is impossible to be certain." l That day the distracted 
Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

... I am in a desperate hurry to catch the post, and so can 
only say that in the last few days Dr. Hovell has perceived a new 
swelling in a new place, the appearance of which he did not like, 
and he wished Sir Morell Mackenzie to see it as soon as possible. 
Sir Morell arrived this morning, and is not satisfied with the look 
of the place \ it has a malignant character about it and symptoms 
which do not please him. He will, however, not give a decided 
opinion about it, nor is he at all certain that it is really bad ! I can 
say no more now, except that this makes me very miserable. The 
doctors have communicated their fears to Fritz, which has de- 
pressed him very much. We have let the Emperor and Empress, 
our three eldest children, and Prince Bismarck know of this out 
of pure prudence and conscientiousness. Two other doctors 
(Professor von Schrotter of Vienna and Dr. Krause of Berlin) will 

1 Morell Mackenzie, Frederick the Nolle, p. 65. 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 come to consult with Mackenzie, but not those who made such a 
mistake this spring. There is no need for alarm, still one cannot 
but be uncomfortable. All was going on so well ! His voice had 
nearly quite returned. Of course it is gone again now. Fritz has a 
good deal of pain at times, but all over the throat, not in that 
special place! This sudden and rapid change in his state has taken 
us very much aback. 

His general health is as good as possible, but these last two days 
he looks worn and anxious, poor dear! It is really a hard trial. 

The consultations and investigations that now took 
place between Sir Morell Mackenzie, Professor von 
Schrotter, Dr. Krause and Dr. Moritz Schmidt, who 
was sent by the Emperor, destroyed the last vestige of 
hope. Cancer had the royal victim in its grip. As a 
result of the consultation the Crown Prince was given 
the choice of total removal of the larynx or the palliative 
operation of tracheotomy. 1 He decided in favour of the 
lattefy Two days later the Crown Princess wrote to her 
mother : 

I should have written before, but I was really so worried and 
tormented that it would have been a confused letter. Many thanks 
for your two dear telegrams! Any little line from you by letter 
or telegraph is a comfort to me now. . . . 

The doctors have arrived and consulted. They read to me their 
Protocol cruel indeed it sounded. I hardly expected much else, 
still when the crude facts of one's doom are read to one, it gives 
one an awful blow! I would not break down before them of course. 
It will be sent to you and to the Emperor. My darling has got a 
fate before him which I hardly dare think of! How I shall ever 
have strength to bear it I do not know! ! (In confidence I must tell 
you that Dr. Prof. Schrotter impressed me most unpleasantly. I 
thought him rough, uncouth and arrogant ; perhaps he did not 
show to advantage before me.) I cannot enough repeat how wise, 
and kind, how delicate and considerate and judicious Sir M. 
Mackenzie is such a real comfort and support and always calm 

1 The Autobiography of Sir Felix Semon, p. 156. 
252 



SAN REMO 

and collected also Dr. Hovell ; I should not have known what 1887 
to do without them. 

I will write more tomorrow for to-day let me end I William 
has just arrived, not by our wish, and just at present is rather in 
the way. 

To this letter the Crown Princess added the post- 
script : 

I hope and trust and believe that the dread hour will be put off 
for many months, if not for years, for more I know I dare not hope. 

The following day, November 10, the British Military 
Attache in Berlin, Colonel Leopold Swaine, wrote to 
Queen Victoria's Secretary, Sir Henry Ponsonby, from 
Berlin : 

This news of the Crown Prince is too dreadful, and we are 
giving up all hopes of his recovery. 

In addition also comes the rumour that the Empress is far from 
well and court officials whisper that Her Majesty is sinking. But I 
have been unable to obtain reliable information on that head. 

It appears that the Emperor, though still weak, is recovering, 
and is by no means as depressed at the news from San Remo as we 
all are. He views the situation far more hopefully. 

I look with sad forebodings into the future if the Crown Prince 
is taken from us. As you know I have the greatest admiration for 
Prince William*s abilities, but I think His Royal Highness's best 
friends will admit that he is still too inexperienced and could hardly 
expect to possess the full confidence, as his father naturally would 
have, of those older German Princes, like the King of Saxony and 
the Regent of Bavaria. 

The Emperor cannot last much longer, and Prince Bismarck, 
continually ailing, is also an old man. As long as the latter's life is 
spared, Prince William would fully adhere to his counsels. But he 
also gone, would leave the young Prince face to face with the task 
of selecting a Chancellor for the Empire. Might not such a question 
at any moment place him in opposition to the more experienced 
heads of the German Kingdoms and Principalities that make up the 
Union ? It is a very anxious moment. 

253 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 On the following day, November 11, the Crown 
Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

Sir Morel! Mackenzie tells me he has written to you, so I will 
only add a few lines. You do not know what we have been 
through!! The anxiety about Fritz was so great at Berlin that 
they again resolved on that awful operation and it is to Sir Morell 
Mackenzie alone, and to his quiet, clever, wise management, that 
we owe it to have escaped being dragged to Berlin and having this 
forced upon us! Please do not let this out, except to some of the 
family! I hope you will see Sir Morell when you are back at 
Windsor and let him tell you all that passed! Fritz is quite happy 
and hopeful and the depression and anxiety has gone off, but oh 1 
what it is to me, I cannot say. Yet I cannot and will not give up 
hope. Mistakes of the strangest kind are made and the evil may 
be arrested, or may cease to grow, etc., for a time, or even for 
good, though I know it is not likely. I must do Prof. Schrotter 
the justice to say that he performed the very difficult and delicate 
task of imparting to my poor darling the result of the consultation 
very well indeed! To say the truth I do not think Fritz realised 
the whole meaning of what he said. He spoke of the operations 
that could be performed and might be proposed, but neither urged 
nor advised them! The others all agreed and have left. We have 
only kept Krause. I was in an agony of terror this morning for 
fear these gentlemen might put their opinion in too plain language 
and give Fritz a terrible shock, so I remained in the room, but it 
all passed off well. I hope now we shall have a little calm and be 
left in peace and be able to nurse our dear patient as is best for 
him, undisturbed. I hope the excitement will subside, and we shall 
be less tormented with letters and telegrams which come pouring 
in. But the load of dread and anxiety which is upon me will 
remain it is almost unbearable. 

On the following day, November 12, 1887, the Ger- 
man Official Gazette announced in an unsigned bulletin 
that " the disease is due to the existence of a malignant 
new growth " ? which was of a " carcinomatous " char- 
acter. 1 The next day the Emperor summoned Bergmann, 

1 Sir Rennell Rodd's Social and Diplomatic Memories, vol. i. 

P* 12 3- 
254 



SAN REMO 

Gerhardt, Tobold, Schrotter, Lenthold, Moritz Schmidt, 1887 
Krause and Landgraf to Berlin to answer two questions. 
To the first, as to whether, in spite of the Crown Prince's 
refusal, the radical operation of the removal of the larynx 
should be advised, they replied that the patient's will must 
be decisive in view of the danger of the operation, and 
that no further attempt should be made to persuade him. 
To the second, as to why, when the operation had been 
abandoned in May and June, it was suggested again at so 
late a date, they replied that " the responsibility for its 
non-performance until too late had been incurred by that 
physician who had overlooked, nay, even denied, the 
increase of the growth ", 1 The consultation resulted in 
the opinion being unanimously arrived at that the life of 
the Crown Prince would best be prolonged by no attempt 
being made whatsoever to remove either the whole or 
the affected portion of the larynx. After considering this 
report, the Crown Prince himself decided that the opera- 
tion should not be performed. The following day the 
Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria (November 13, 
1887) : 

. . . Tomorrow morning Sir Morell Mackenzie goes, and I 
shall feel like a ship cut adrift from her anchor! However, happily 
Dr. Krause, whom I like, and who seems very nice, is going to 
stay. Sir Morell must come back after a while. We hear there is a 
perfect storm of excitement and criticism raging at Berlin. It is 
very unfair and unjust! You will hear a great deal from Sir Morell 
when he gets back, though his news will have become rather stale 
by the time you return from Scotland; still, you will hear what 
we have been through. 

Fritz has slept well, and eats well, and feels comfortable. We 
must pray that he may remain so as long as possible. The sickening 

1 The Autobiography of Sir Felix Semon, pp. 157-158. Also 
the Standard, November 14, 1887. 

255 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 dread of what his sufferings may be drives me quite wild at times; 
and then I hope and trust there may be no suffering. 

The weather is splendid, and I hope he will be allowed out 
again soon, as he enjoys walking and driving so much. 

All the world was now interested in the unusual event 
of an Emperor and his heir-apparent both on the threshold 
of death. The Emperor, William L, was already declining 
slowly his son in the grip of a mortal disease : the 
agonising race with death had begun. The German press 
was beside itself. The conclusion was speedily reached 
that the life of the Crown Prince would be sacrificed 
because of the mistake of a doctor an English doctor 
who had, they asserted, been called in by the Crown 
Princess. German doctors, who had been correct in their 
diagnosis, had been deliberately set aside in favour of an 
incompetent foreigner! Prince William was not slow to 
reflect Berlin opinion, and arrived at San Remo with 
Dr. Schmidt to make his own inquiries. On November 
15 the Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

My darling Fritz is going on very nicely as regards the temporary 
swelling and inflammation of the throat (Oedema). This has nearly 
disappeared he is no longer obliged to suck ice all day, and to have 
ice bandages (ice bags) tied round his neck day and night, and 
to sleep in his dressing room. But he is not allowed downstairs 
not out of doors yet. I have meals alone with him, and sit in his 
room all day when I am not out walking. He is very cheerful and 
quite comfortable, busies himself with reading and writing a great 
deal and sleeps very well. He has promised he will not read about 
himself in the newspaper and he has kept his promise. 

The violent and shameful attacks upon poor Sir Morell Mac- 
kenzie in the German press and Berlin public make us very indig- 
nant j they are as unjust as they are hasty. We feel so very grate- 
ful to him that it pains us doubly. 

You ask how Willy was when he was here I He was as rude, 
as disagreeable and as impertinent to me as possible when he 
arrived, but I pitched into him with, I am afraid, considerable 

256 



SANREMO 

violence, and he became quite nice and gentle and amiable (for 1887 
him) at least quite natural, and we got on very well! He began 
with saying he would not go out walking with me " because he 
was too busy he had to speak to the doctors ". I said the doctors 
had to report to me and not to him, upon which he said he had 
the "Emperor's orders" to insist upon the right thing, to see that 
the doctors were not interfered with, and to report to the Emperor 
about his Papa! I said it was not necessary, as we always reported 
to the Emperor ourselves. He spoke before others and half turning 
his back to me, so I said I would go and tell his father how he 
behaved and ask that he should be forbidden the house and 
walked away. Upon which he sent Ct. Radolinsky flying after me, 
to say he had not meant to be rude and begged me to say nothing 
to Fritz, " but that it was his duty to see that the Emperor's 
commands were carried out ". I instantly saia I had no malice, 
but I would suffer no interference. So it all went on quite smoothly 
and we had many a pleasant little walk and chat together. He was 
also quite nice to Sir Morell, etc. . . . William came with the 
intention of insisting on this terrible operation being performed 
and therefore brought Dr. Schmidt without our knowledge, as it 
was feared the other doctors would not urge it, and Schmidt was 
brought to press it on them, and to carry us off to Berlin for that 
purpose I It would simply have assassinated Fritz. William is of 
course much too young and inexperienced to understand all this! 
He was merely put up to it at Berlin! He thought he was to save 
his Papa from my mismanagement!! When he has not his head 
stuffed with rubbish at Berlin he is quite nice and trdtatte, and 
then we are very pleased to have him ; but I will not have him 
dictate to me the head on my shoulders is every bit as good as 
his. If it were not I should be the first to give in to him. . . . 

Now good-bye, dearest beloved Mama if you do write to 
Fritz, I hope you will do so as cheerfully as you can! Letters in 
a melancholy tone such as he does receive a good many depress 
him. He hates being thought very ill, or appearing so! 

The tension between mother and son did not tend to 

lessen as time went on ; nor was the Crown Princess 

overpleased with the sending of Dr. Bramann (Professor 

Bergmann's assistant) to San Remo to perform the opera- 

s 257 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 tion of tracheotomy if this should suddenly become neces- 
sary. On November 16 she wrote to Queen Victoria : 

Though I wrote this morning, yet I must send a few more 
lines tonight to thank you for your dear letter of the i2th which 
I have just received. All your dear kind words touch and cheer 
me so much, and your love is a true comfort and support! I 
cannot say how grateful I am for it. Fritz sends you his best love 
and thanks for all your sympathy, . . . 

William's telegram is too foolish! He told me he had sent it 
and I said "How could you!!" It is too impudent! Just like 
him! He never reflects. He had heard that very morning that 
Miinster had advised us not to send everything en ctatr, as it 
was all read, so William thought he would give them a piece of 
his mind and was rather proud of this telegram of his, as a bright 
idea! I failed to see it in that light!! 

We have had fresh annoyance from Berlin today: Count 
Stollberg telegraphs that the Emperor has sent a surgeon here, 
Bergmann's assistant, with orders to stay near us! We had twice 
protested and declined, and said that if a surgeon were neces- 
sary we should let Bergmann know! In spite of all this, they 
force this person on us! They do tease and torment us, and the 
press goes on quarrelling and fighting about Fritz! Political ques- 
tions and national feelings and prejudices get mixed up with all 
this, so that one gets driven nearly wild! But the sincere sympathy 
we meet with from so many many sides is most touching, and we 
are deeply grateful for it. 

To this letter Queen Victoria replied on November 18 : 

You have every reason to feel angry and annoyed at the excite- 
ment and shameful publicity and disgraceful arguments respecting 
our beloved Fritz's illness. But on the other hand some allowance 
must be made for the fearful anxiety of the nation about their 
beloved, noble and heroic Prince. 

I will certainly see Sir M. Mackenzie on my return at once and 
will hear everything. I hope, however, that dear Fritz knows the 
alternatives and that it is he who has decided not to have the opera- 
tion ? for else the responsibility of others in positively deciding 
against it would be fearful. The German Surgeons and many, I 
believe, in England, do not consider that operation so dangerous 

258 



SAN REMO 

and there are many instances of its success, for in that way the 1887 
disease can be really eradicated. Some people also think that Sir 
M. Mackenzie's judgment is not quite equal to his great skill in 
the internal operation. I only feel it my duty out of love for you 
both to say openly what strikes me, for the importance and value 
of beloved Fritz's precious life is such that one must overlook 
nothing. Of course I am still greatly in the dark as to the exact 
state of everything and therefore only write this to you as I know 
you would wish me to be quite open. 

This letter crossed one from the Crown Princess 
written that same day, in which she had poured out all 
her fears and hopes to her mother : 

I received your dear letter of the i4th yesterday evening! So 
many most affectionate thanks for it! But I should reproach myself 
if you tired yourself, or gave up too much of your precious time by 
writing to me, so please do not write oftener on my account than 
usual. I know how your time is taken up, and though you know 
what a comfort and pleasure your dear letters are, still I should 
fidget very much if you wrote more than is convenient to you 
in any way! Our dear patient continues to do very well! The 
interference, the attacks, the advice continue to pour down upon 
us from Berlin, i.e, upon me, because we trouble Fritz as little as 
we can! The newspapers are filled with absolute lies and yet one 
does not know whether it be wise or advisable to contradict them! 
They are for the most part very spiteful innuendoes. You know 
there is a party who have their representatives at this moment 
even at our court, who no doubt from good motives, but with a 
deplorable lack of common sense and knowledge of medical affairs, 
insist that I am at the bottom of all the mischief prevented the 
operation in May, forced Sir M. Mackenzie on Fritz, and have kept 
everyone else away! They also say that this horrible operation 
would kill or cure Fritz and that I have prevented both the chances! 
They dread a war or European complications. They think William 
would be better than an Emperor suffering from an incurable 
malady, they also perhaps think they can get rid of me, which 
they would be glad of, as they find tie Emperor and William far 
better tools. This is so grossly ignorant and false and ridiculous 

259 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 that it is hardly worth fighting. The trouble is that as long as 
there is breath in me, I shall see that the right thing is done for 
Fritz for the prolongation of his life, for his comfort and happiness. 
They are (many of them) angry with me for appearing cheerful 
and unconcerned before Fritz and for trying to make the time 
pass pleasantly and keep his mind free from care and from dwelling 
on painful things! They say I try to hide the gravity of the situa- 
tion from him, that he ought to feel more what danger he is in. 
This is not at all true, as he is in no danger of any immediate 
kind now, thank God! They say that I buoy him up with false 
hopes, which is also not true, as I carefully avoid speaking of the 
future in order not to be obliged to say what I do not think! 
When first Sir Morell told him in the gentlest, kindest way that 
he was afraid the growth might be a malignant one, it depressed 
Fritz so frightfully that he shed the bitterest tears and had a heart- 
breaking outburst of grief! " To think that I should have such a 
horrid, disgusting illness! that I shall be an object of disgust to 
everyone, and a burden to you all ! I had so hoped to be of use to 
my country. Why is Heaven so cruel to me! What have I done to 
be thus stricken down and condemned! What will become of you? 
I have nothing to leave you! Who will fight Moretta's battles ? " 
But I did all I could to console and pacify him, and tell him all 
I could think of which was comforting and reassuring, though 
consistent with the truth! I said we must leave the future in 
God's hands and not trouble about it, but fight this illness as 
well as we can, by remaining cheerful and hopeful, taking care of 
health, etc. 

He was quite relieved and comforted and what the other 
doctors afterwards said to him made no impression! He listened 
quite calmly to them, but he did not realise exactly what they meant! 
This, of course, is only known to very few people, Sir Morell, Dr. 
Hovell and Moretta! Nor must it be known, or the others would 
lose no opportunity of saying " Oh, you are much worse than 
you know. Your wife is concealing it from you. There is no 
hope for you anywhere, you had better resign all hopes of 
succeeding your father. You should have gone back to Berlin 
and submitted to the operation." Even good and well-meaning 
people have not le tact du cceur and would not try to save a person 
one moment's agony or distress of mind. You know how sensitive 
and apprehensive, how suspicious and despondent Fritz is by 
260 



SAN REMO 

nature! All the more wrong and positively dangerous (let alone 1887 
the cruelty of it) to wish him to think the worst! We should not 
keep him going at all, if this were the case. Some of his friends 
think there is something grand in making the worst of everything, 
the biggest fuss they can, and among the letters and telegrams he 
gets (in spite of my trying to keep them away from him) are most 
injudicious, regular funeral orations. This keeps me in a continual 
fear, as it is really too bad to have him tormented and upset, instead 
of encouraged and supported, and it makes my task very difficult, 
as you can imagine! The publicity with which all our affairs have 
been treated at Berlin, is very painful, and the indiscretion and 
want of delicacy are very offensive to our feelings. This I am sure 
you will understand and feel with me! ... 

How long it may please God to leave our darling with us we 
know not, but this thought, though it embitters every minute of my 
existence, shall not cast more gloom over him than I can help ! Even 
in uncertainty there is an element of hope. Small as it is, it is enough 
to be held out to him in a vague way, which cheers and comforts 
him and makes him willing to do what the doctors wish, which he 
would not do, if he were convinced that it was all no use! I have 
written you these details, as I thought you would wish to know. 

I am so thankful we are not in Berlin, where they would half 
kill us with interference, where they quite lose their heads with 
excitement. 

I do not know, but I think Prince Bismarck would be on our 
side. The Emperor is marvellously well again, the Empress I 
hear very conflicting accounts about, so that I really do not quite 
know. . . . 

The continued absence of the Crown Prince from 
Berlin was now being resented by certain elements in 
the German court, and the fears of the Princess seemed 
to be justified when on November 17 the Emperor dele- 
gated his authority to Prince William in the event of his 
illness. Four days later the Empress's second son, Prince 
Henry, had arrived at San Remo, and the distress occa- 
sioned by his visit may be gauged from the following 
letter from the Crown Princess written on November 21 : 

261 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 At Berlin they had done what is exceedingly wrong. The 
Emperor has appointed William to sign all the state papers in his 
stead, whenever the Emperor feels unable! To do this without 
asking Fritz, or consulting him, is an irregular proceeding and 
exceedingly rucksichtslos. Two days ago a notification of this 
fact arrived, signed by Bismarck, not even in his hand ! As Fritz 
was on that day much excited and annoyed by an assistant of 
Bergmann's being sent here by the Emperor's orders without 
Fritz's wishes and against my written and telegraphic protest, 
the doctor wished him not to be worried, so I put by this paper 
and did not give it him! Henry arrives, pulls a paper, or rather a 
letter, from Willy out of his pocket, in which letter it says that he 
has been appointed as Stellvertreter des Kaisers, and gives it to 
Fritz, who was much upset, very angry, and much excited, talked 
a great deal (which is very bad for him) and said he would go 
instantly to Berlin, etc. ... and took a long while to calm and 
pacify. 

Now I must tell you that the court, military and government 
people are so mad and foolish at Berlin that they imagine Fritz's 
illness to be in far more advanced a stage than it really is! I may 
also say their wish is father to the thought! They think that 
as the Crown Prince is given up, the quicker another takes his 
place the better for the state (and for them). They think that I, 
Sir Morell and Dr. Hovell, and Dr. Krause take care of our patient, 
and think only of him, his welfare, and of prolonging and if possible 
saving his precious life ; which of course they (the Party) think 
utterly impossible and ridiculous. They know that Sir Morell, 
Dr. Hovell and Dr. Krause are perfectly independent, are not state 
employe's of the German Government, and will take no orders from 
Berlin, but are simply guided by their duty towards their patient! 
The Party consequently wish to get rid of them, and are only 
too glad to avail themselves of the shameful and disgusting polemic 
in the press, which they even favour and encourage! The Party 
think that if they could only get rid of me, they would then send 
Fritz's doctors away and put people of their own choosing, whom 
they could direct, about Fritz, whose duty, they calmly say, it 
would be to make Fritz see that his case is hopeless, and that it 
is his duty to resign his claim to the Throne, the sooner the better. 
This plot is being worked and Fritz guesses it and is very 
suspicious. All worry is so very bad! The sympathy in Germany 
262 



SAN REMO 

is so very great and the affection for him so strong, but the con- 1887 
sternation is also very great. People have heard that Fritz knows 
the worst that he has accepted it with stoicism, and therefore 
they think he must be going to die immediately and are astonished 
that he does not return. Others again think if the Emperor were 
to be either taken, or so ill that he could not do any business, the 
Crown Prince must be past doing business, so Prince William 
must take his place 1 This latter opinion was expressed by Henry 
this afternoon to me in, I am sorry to say, a most unbecoming 
manner. I am not angry with the boy, because he is ignorant, 
green and misled, and does not understand, but he preached to 
me as if I were a little girl! He is devoted to his Papa and thinks 
everyone in office at Berlin must be right! All these torments are 
rather hard for me to bear, with all the anxiety gnawing at my 
heart night and day ! I think they will calm down at Berlin and 
come to their senses. . . . 

Thank God dear Fritz feels well and comfortable today, worry 
and annoyance excepted. He sends you his tenderest love. 

Of the future [she added in a postscript] I have not dared to 
think today. I leave it in God's hands, and do not desire to 
know what is coming. . . . 

Other letters from the Crown Princess to her mother 
during the remaining six weeks of the year 1887 are 
mostly in this strain. In the main they give news of the 
fluctuations of the Crown Prince's illness one day she 
would be buoyed up by hope, and the next utterly 
depressed. She resisted strenuously efforts to replace 
Mackenzie, Hovell and Krause by other doctors. The 
continued criticism in the German press worried her con- 
siderably, as did the thoughtless and often provocative 
actions of her sons, Prince William and Prince Henry. 
" Henry ", she wrote on November 29, " maintains that 
his Papa is lost through the English doctors and me. . . . 
He becomes so rude and impertinent that I really cannot 
stand it." l On December 2 she again wrote : 

1 Prince Henry was then twenty-five years old. 

263 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 It is hard enough to hear myself abused, everything found 
wrong that is done for Fritz the doctors, who are acting so wisely 
and conscientiously, torn to pieces by ignorant excited people 
but it is harder far to see one's own children side violently with 
these people and refuse to hear or believe a word one says. Henry 
is quite dreadful in this respect!! He is so prejudiced, and fancies 
he knows far better than his Mama and all the doctors here, and 
that we do not speak the truth. It makes me feel so bitter at times. 
However, I think that when we have been here longer, he will 
perhaps be brought to see things in their true light. He is as 
obstinate as a mule. 

You cannot think how much perfidy has been used in mis- 
representing things to the German public, to excite them against 
Sir Morell Mackenzie, against me, against Dr. Krause and Dr. 
Hovell. . . . On this ground the political intrigues have grown. 
General von Winterfeld, who had been the greatest support and 
comfort at Baveno, instantly gave everything up, lost his head, 
and took upon himself to stir up the whole court and military 
party at Berlin. He persisted in telegraphing the most alarming 
things, and created the scare at Berlin, which was kept up and 
increased by the violence of General v. Albedyll and his friends, 
who were of course terrified, and thought Fritz would be taken 
from us in a few months and kept bombarding us with orders to 
do things we could not do. Winterfeld and all the Party at Berlin 
wanted to pack us up instantly and go back, put Fritz into the 
hands of Gerhardt, Bergmann and Tobold and force the operation 
on us! I need hardly say that the journey would have prevented 
the acute inflammation from going down and that in all probability 
the operation would have cost Fritz his life. 

Against this it was my duty to fight! Now the same Party will 
not see and refuse to admit that Fritz is doing relatively well. 
They had based all their calculations on his not succeeding his 
father, or on his being obliged to institute a Regency immediately, 
which would put all the power in William's hands. They are 
making their arrangements accordingly and I have as yet no 
knowledge of what Bismarck's attitude is whether he believes 
the Party and goes with them, or not! This is the truth of the 
position we are placed in. They mean it patriotically and for what 
they consider the good of the country, but it is really foolish and 
wrong, wicked and cruel, and certainly not in accordance with 
264 



SAN REMO 

what the German nation feel, who daily give fresh proofs of 1887 
affection and confidence, sympathy and loyal devotion. 

I must bear with all this injustice, ingratitude and folly for a 
time. The future will show who was right. 

It was during her visit to the Crown Princess that 
Lady Ponsonby, one of her most valued friends, wrote 
to her husband, Sir Henry Ponsonby, on December 3, 
1887, a letter that sheds an interesting light upon the 
social conditions which obtained at the Villa Zirio : 

Just returned from dining at the Villa Zirio with the Crown 
Prince and Princess and seventeen at dinner. We were let me see 
Bruhl, Perpignan and four princesses, self and Maggie and Mile. 
de B., the governess, made nine women ; Crown Prince, Prince 
Henry, his equerry Seckendorff, Von Rabe (a mysterious man in 
spectacles), our Seckendorff, and a small dark English doctor were 
the party. I sat next the Crown Prince, who looked beautiful, with 
a fresh colour and a good appetite, and whom I had the greatest 
difficulty to prevent talking. . . . 

I have just had a long visit from Baron Roggenbach, an old 
friend of the Prince and Stockmar, and one of the few people the 
Crown Princess really trusts. He says he was almost the first to be 
alarmed about the Crown Prince and told me the history of the 
case from the beginning. Whatever his opinion is of Mackenzie 
at home^ and it does not seem to be favourable, he thinks he has 
behaved honourably and straightforwardly here. He quite agrees 
with him that the operation at any time was out of the question 
whether the evil were cancer or no, so that he (M. M.) was justified 
in saying, so far as evidence went at first, there was nothing to 
prove it to be malignant. He never disguised from the Crown 
Prince it might become so. R. told me a great deal more, but post 
is going. Crown Princess here for a little and took Maggie with 
her and Princess Victoria. We dine there tonight. 

Must just add that I think Roggenbach quite the most shrewd 
German I have seen with them. At this moment he says it is a case 
of surprise, general health and colour excellent and each day better. 
At all events, the mischief is not progressing, tell Jenner. 1 

1 Mary Ponsonby, pp. 259-261. 

265 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 Bismarck's attitude during this period was one of 
sympathetic interest, and the Princess wrote with pleasure 
on December 8 of " a civil and pleasant letter " she had 
received from him : l 

Henry [she continued] is quite nice and amiable now, but I 
have never returned to the subject of his papa's illness, or the 
doctors, or the way which people went on at Berlin, as I cannot 
be spoken to in such a way again! In all other respects he has 
now calmed down considerably, and makes himself agreeable. He 
is always nice when he has been with us some time, but not when 
he has been set up by others, and his head stuffed full of rubbish 
at Berlin. . . . 

Six days later Lady Ponsonby wrote to Queen 
Victoria : 

. . . The Princess told me yesterday that the fact of a fresh 
small growth having appeared on the vocal cord has been made 
known to Your Majesty, also that it has been decided to call Sir M. 
Mackenzie again in consultation. 2 This has been a source of trouble 
and anxious thought, not so much that this appearance makes the 
doctors fear the existence of cancer more than they have lately done. 
It is to be regretted, of course, as the expectation of another consult- 
ation so soon depresses the Prince, and many similar operations 
will have necessarily a lowering effect, but the great question of all, 
what exact form of throat disease is the Crown Prince suffering 
from, remains unanswered as yet, and this growth (precisely the same 
in character as that which Sir M. Mackenzie operated upon before) 
does not in any way prove one thing or the other. But this return 

1 Busch, p. 2325 records that among the Chancellor's letters 
there was a long one dated November 22, 1887, from the Crown 
Princess, " giving the Chancellor particulars of her consort's illness 
and of the doctors ; and also Bodelschwingh's communication, on 
the top of which the chief had written in pencil * Old hypocrite V 

2 Apparently the Crown Princess ignored the reports published 
in the German Official Gazette that the new growth was of a carci- 
nomatous character. 

266 



SAN REMO 

of the milder form of illness makes a complication in the Princess's 1887 
position which it is difficult to decide how to meet. With the exist- 
ing jealousy on the part of the German doctors it may not be wise 
to call in the English doctor alone. If, on the other hand, the con- 
sultation takes in two or three and four doctors, a panic will arise 
and all the peace which has lately prevailed will be at an end. Be- 
sides Princess Charlotte and her husband are expected here shortly. 
It is difficult to decide whether this prospect of another consultation 
should be told them or not. In talking over it with the Princess I 
submitted that in my humble judgment it would be better to hide 
nothing. The doctors cannot come here without comment from 
the press and public. If the Prince and Princess arrive expecting to 
find the Crown Prince as well as the accounts of the last fortnight 
have made him out (most truly) to be, but instead of that find him 
shut up in his room, as he must be for the moment, it will strengthen 
the impression (which I believe the son-in-law shares with Prince 
William) that the real truth is kept from the relations and from the 
public, and it would only add to the mass of deplorable misrepre- 
sentation under which the dear Crown Princess suffers. I think the 
Crown Princess has decided that at this very moment only Your 
Majesty shall be told, but I told Count Seckendorff of my fears, and 
he said the Princess thought as I did and would make this relapse 
(it is almost too strong a word) known a little later and before the 
Prince and Princess arrive. 

We dined last night at Villa Zirio and I begged not to sit next 
the Crown Prince. He is so very very kind and cordial and it is 
almost impossible to prevent his speaking. If one tries to avoid this 
by talking oneself, then he will answer. If one is silent, then he will 
begin the conversation, so I sorrowfully relinquished my place, and 
Baron Roggenbach being gone (with whom he had long conversa- 
tions) I think the Prince was persuaded to be more silent and played 
at billiards instead of talking. 

The Crown Princess has had a headache and slight cold and 
naturally her spirits vary according to the state of affairs. It is 
perfectly insufferable that she cannot do the simplest thing without 
its being known at once in Berlin. I daresay H.L Highness told 
Your Majesty of the telegram en clair she sent to the Duchess of 
Montpensier, upon which the Crown Princess receives a message 
from Berlin before the answer arrives, to say it is wished H.L 
Highness should not meet the Orleans family! It must have 

267 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 happened that the information came from someone at Villa Zirio, 
This is the saddest part of the dear Crown Princess's position. There 
is not une dme qui vive to whom she can speak openly (I am speak- 
ing of the ladies). If she does it is always taken with a twist, with 
suspicion, misrepresented, exaggerated and turned against her. 
Mdlle. de Perpignan is far and away the kindest and most just 
person, and the Crown Princess seems to have quite forgiven their 
little differences. HI. Highness told me Count R. had shown 
which way the wind blew when he said things are so altered that 
now it does not signify there should be anyone (Ct. Seckendorff) 
independent of the Government with influence in the Crown 
Prince's Household. In the meantime they sat next each other at 
dinner last night, which amused me, and they speak (which I think 
does both credit) though they never can be friends. Whatever 
faults (and I perfectly see them) Count S. may have, there can be 
no manner of doubt that the advice he gives the Crown Princess is 
always sensible, honest, open and fearless. Situated as she is, I can- 
not but think these are great merits. Princess Victoria is a great 
comfort to her mother and has, I think, a great deal of character. 
The Crown Princess is, however, very very lonely and it makes 
me wretched sometimes to think of it. . . . 

Lady Ponsonby's reference to the Crown Princess's 
relations with the Duchess of Montpensier bore allusion 
to another cause of tension between the Crown Princess 
and those in power at Berlin. The Crown Princess had 
always been on friendly terms with the Orleans family, 
and hearing that the Duke and Duchess of Montpensier 
were at Cannes (where the Crown Princess's brother 
Leopold had died in 1884), decided either to pay them a 
short visit there or to invite them to San Remo. The 
moment the news of this project reached Berlin, Bismarck 
promptly forbade such an exchange of civilities, and on 
January 22 the Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria : 

Fancy that I am forbidden to go and see the Duke and Duchess 
of Montpensier and Marguerite and Chignite, or to ask them here. 
They all so very kindly asked to come here to see us!! It makes 
268 



SAN REMO 

me furious to have to find excuses and appear so rude when I am 1887 
so anxious to see them all ! Therefore I cannot go to Cannes, and 
yet am so anxious to see the house in which our dear Leopold 
breathed his last, and the Church erected to his memory! It is 
really too bad and so ridiculous; besides I wish they all knew that 
it is no fault of ours. It is Bismarck's newest fad. I am quite at a 
loss to see what possible harm it could do anyone, or anything, if 
I saw our relations and friends who are always so kind and civil 
and agreeable. It seems to me so kleinlich. I suppose that the idea 
is the French Government are not to imagine that Germany has the 
faintest sympathy for the Orleans family or their cause on the 
contrary hopes they will not return to the Throne ! Prince Bismarck 
is convinced that they are a great danger to peace and to Germany, 
which I do not and cannot believe 1 He thinks if they returned to 
power, Russia would instantly make an alliance with them and 
begin war upon Germany, whereas the Czar's dislike to a Republic 
restrains him from allying himself with France at this moment. 
I fail to see that this Republic is a safeguard at all. 

It was while Lady Ponsonby was still at San Remo 
that she wrote to her husband, Sir Henry Ponsonby, in 
December 1887 : 

... I declare I think the unfairness about the Crown Princess 
is unbearable. The German press all adopt the tone that the real 
truth is kept back, and if she quotes Dr. Krause (the German doctor 
here who works with Hovell) they say that he has been won over. 
Bismarck (the old one) and the Emperor and Empress are kind, 
which helps her. The Crown Prince trusts implicitly in her, so 
that is a great compensation, but the hochements de tete of the 
children, Henry and the little ones, and the visage d'wenement of 
Bruhl irritate me. I don't think M. Mackenzie has entered into 
all the details with Reid. Hovell gave me a long detailed account 
which with Roggenbach's and the Crown Princess's I have written 
out while I remember it all. 

The Queen's letter is very interesting. I think she has been 
envenimee against M. Mackenzie by Uncle, 1 who is in charge of his 
nephew William, and thinks and says the English doctor is only 

1 Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. 

269 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1887 trying to feather his nest. Yesterday was the first day she, the Crown 
Princess, broke down before me. She is generally in apparent excel- 
lent spirits, though preoccupied at times ; but yesterday it was too 
much to find him reading a recapitulation of the doctors' former 
opinion with a paragraph pointing out the difference between this 
and the present bulletins and leaving their readers to make their 
own inference. The poor Crown Prince turned to her and said, 
" Why will they take every ray of hope away ? What good is done 
them by this ? " and pointed to the paragraph. She was quite 
cheerful to him and then came into the next room where I was and 
cried. She is so wonderful generally that it fills one with pity. The 
Crown Prince was full of chaff last night, taking off Maggie, de- 
lighted with the thought of the children's enjoyment of the Christ- 
mas tree. . . . 1 

The Christmas of 1887 passed with the usual inter- 
change of cordial wishes between the Crown Princess 
and her mother, and her last letter to Queen Victoria in 
1887 bore testimony to the ever-widening gulf between 
the Princess and her son William. On December 28 she 
wrote : 

So many affectionate thanks for your dear letter written on 
Christmas Eve. This will be my last letter in the Old Year, your 
Jubilee Year, never to be forgotten, which has brought much 
happiness, also much anxiety. It is not without the usual uncertainty 
that the New Year begins but still I am full of hope, as Sir Morell 
Mackenzie is even more satisfied this time than he was before, 
and more reassured about the appearance of Fritz's throat than a 
week ago. You will hear from him all he thinks, so much better 
than I can put it, that I leave the details to him. His visit has been 
most useful and a great comfort. 

Dear Mary Ponsonby has left today how much I shall miss 
her, and how thankful I was to have her here for a little. She, too, 
can tell you much more than I could write. . . . 

I am rather amused at the Times correspondent at Berlin saying 
that the " Mission " at Berlin is for the development of Evan- 
gelistic Church life and Christian charity. It is by no means a 

1 Mary Ponsonby, pp. 264-265, 
270 



SAN REMO 

harmless thing; the people that belong to it are the most violent 1887 
enemies to all my charitable undertakings (I have always avoided 
the violent Sectarians, Anti-Jews, and Anti-Catholics, thinking 
them intolerant and uncharitable). William, and more especially 
Dona, have always favoured the opposite "Clique" who 
are all violent Bismarckists, Conservatives, etc. Therefore when 
this meeting was held, at which Dona and William were pre- 
sent and the latter made a very foolish speech, I was in no 
ways astonished; it created great indignation, however, in the 
Liberal and Bourgeois world at Berlin, and has made William still 
more unpopular than he already was, with- the mass of the popu- 
lation. We said nothing to him about it, not thinking it worth 
while. He must buy his own experience, as he does not listen to 
us. The people who for almost 30 years have been nasty to Fritz 
and especially to me, are the very same who run after William, 
who have him quite in their pocket and Dona also, the same 
people or clique as used to persecute my parents-in-law, as long 
as they were Prince and Princess of Prussia, and who only became 
such devoted admirers of the Emperor since he dropped all his 
old principles and all his old friends, and took Bismarck in 1863, 
and the retrograde era began. Their hope, their wish is that 
William shall continue the style of Government they are so sadly 
afraid will be modified if Fritz ever is Emperor. William knows 
all this! The Court-Clergy at Berlin are most pernicious elements, 
false, ambitious, narrow-minded and servile, much disliked by the 
educated and independent middle class. It is sad that the children 
should not take their parents' sidel Fritz and I stuck loyally and 
faithfully to all the Emperor's old friends, Schleinitz, Usedom, 
Hatzfeldt, Pourtales, Arnim, Camphausen, Bonin, Prince Hohen- 
lohe all such excellent, high principled men, tolerant, cour- 
teous, cosmopolitan!! Bismarck swept them all away and then the 
rule of " blood and iron " the principle of " opportunism " was 
inaugurated and we withdrew into silence and reserve. We could 
not approve of all that was done, but people who tried to do the 
Emperor and Empress harm, or who criticised them with dis- 
respect, we should never have taken up!! Much will change if 
we ever have a chance of putting straight and conciliating. The 
Emperor's great age accounts in a great measure for all this Party 
strife! But I must not bore you with these things, which can 
only be of secondary interest to you. 

271 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 The new year brought little joy to the Crown Prin- 
cess. It had barely begun before the discovery was made 
that the right side of the larynx was attacked by the 
growth. On January 5 the Princess wrote to her mother : 

Fritz is a little hoarser these last few days, and the right side 
(which was not attacked till now) shows signs of congestion and 
a little swelling. It is very tiresome, not but what we must expect 
the like in a state of chronic affection as his is. Still I had hoped 
we should have escaped it! I have told Dr. Hovell to write to 
Dr. Reid about it! 

Fritz's illness has made everyone feel what a blessed thing it would 
be if this regime of Bismarck's omnipotence were not to last for 
ever, if other motives and sentiments and another spirit were to 
pervade the German Government. B. is very great, a man of genius 
and power, does his best and has done great things for his country. 
One must be just and grateful, but as you cannot gather grapes 
of thorns or figs from thistles, so can you not expect from him 
that which modem Germany lacks and which it thirsts for, and 
that is peace among its classes, races, religions and parties, good 
and friendly relations with its neighbours, liberty and the respect 
of right instead of force, and the protection of the weak against 
the oppression of the strong. . . . 

Three weeks later the Crown Princess wrote to Lady 
Ponsonby (January 28) : 

The Crown Prince has been feeling very seedy this last fort- 
night, but it is only the consequence of the last attack, when he 
had such a violent cough, and such fever and sleepless nights, 
all that has passed off, but has left him feeling out of sorts and 
with headache and a little neuralgia. I hope it will soon pass off; 
there are no new unfavourable symptoms in the throat! Tomorrow 
Sir M. Mackenzie returns, and we are very anxious to hear what 
he will have to say. 

We have been much teased from Berlin and dear Count 
Radolinsky wrote me two most violent letters, that I can only call 
insane. I showed them to no one and burnt them and shall not 
answer or take any notice! They were a heap of surmises (on 
the old subject) each one as false and fantastic as it could be! 
272 



SAN REMO 

winding up with a series of dark threats!!! It is really terrible 1888 
that he who means to be so loyal to us, should be so credulous, so 
excitable, violent, imprudent and injudicious one really does not 
know how to deal with these wild mad words ! He was like a lamb 
here, but when he gets back to his people he is more like a bull 
in a china shop and for no reason* We have also been having 
great trouble with the press, etc. I am often quite exhausted with 
trying to keep things straight, Us has me tombent, and I wish for 
you back so much! 

Now to another subject. You know I have a great opinion of 
Sir H, Layard's talents and knowledge and experience! I know 
quite well all that is said against him, but also that his capacities 
could be turned to good account! A man who at his age can 
write two good books in one year has a deal of energy left. I 
know the Queen has great prejudices against him; poor Odo used 
to tell me to do what I could to smother these! Both parties, Tories 
and Liberals, had grievances against him still there was an idea 
once of getting him into the House of Lords and giving him a 
peerage. He could get into the House of Commons if he liked 
but the work is too hard for him at his age! Are no more peerages 
to be given on account of the Jubilee ? Do ask your King Solomon 
I mean Sir Henry, I do not like to write to the Queen can 
you not tell me whether something can be done ? What I am 
saying is utterly unbeknown to old Sir Henry Layard though 
we have just seen him! I enclose a letter from Sir Wm. Gregory 
on the same subject to a third person, who also takes great interest 
in the idea. 

I had a long and interesting talk with Lord Hartington yester- 
day. He seems full of vigour and lucidity which is a very good 
thing. I was so much interested with Lord Chas. Beresford's, Lord 
Brassey's and the Duke of Cambridge's speeches at that meeting 
(in the Times I received today). Oh how I wish every penny were 
rightly spent on our army and navy, and loth were as efficient as 
POSSIBLE. We cannot do without! 

Dearest Mary I must end here! My girls, especially Vicky, 
send you and Maggie their best love! They say their Mama is 
getting more and more absent , and they wonder whether Maggie's 
Mama is in a brown study out walking, or loses her gloves and 
pocket handkerchiefs, and puts her cap on crooked at dinner!! 
and commits the like enormities! Can you tell me ? 

T 273 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 January and February passed with the patient still at 
San Remo, and his wife ever by his side. Almost every 
week the illness fluctuated to such an extent as to cause 
alternations of hope and despair in the Princess. She was, 
however, pleased to note on January 8 that " the Emperor 
spoke kindly about Morell Mackenzie, which I am also 
glad of". Early in February, the disease now having 
been diagnosed as perichondritis, it was decided to insert 
a canula into the patient's throat, so as to render breathing 
somewhat easier. On February 8 the Princess wrote to 
Queen Victoria : 

I am quite miserable that Fritz suffers so much from this 
difficulty in breathing, and this horrid tracheotomy is pending : 
Of course, I am very thankful that Virchow's report is as good as 
it is. But I must say I feel a little as if we were " out of the frying 
pan into the fire " as one cannot tell how long, nor how bad this 
perichondritis will be, nor how Fritz's constitution will stand it. 
His patience gets sorely tried and his spirits much depressed it 
is difficult to keep up his courage. He feels how necessary he is, 
and is so anxious to be cured and to recover. The nights and 
days and weeks wear one, and we cannot see our way out of the 
wood yet. All this uncertainty is very hard to bear and one has 
to put as good a face on it as one can. 

To Lady Ponsonby she wrote on the same day : 

... I am again very anxious and much tormented because 
tracheotomy is pending, and you can imagine how I hate the 
thought of this detestable operation, but if the difficulty of breath- 
ing continues and even increases, what else can be done? It 
makes me miserable, however, that my poor darling should have 
all this to go through without one's being able to take it away 
from him, which I gladly would. 

As for the subterranean war in the household, I have heard 
nothing lately. Count Radolinsky is a kind-hearted, amiable and 
intelligent man, most devoted to us, but not judicious violent, 
credulous (like a baby), excitable, talks too much and is in conse- 
quence often led and not by the best people. This makes it a 
274 



SAN REMO 

danger, because he is most imprudent, though he means very well. 1888 
His intentions now at Berlin are the best, and he only wishes to 
keep the Emperor and the Chancellor in a good humour about 
us and satisfied with the treatment the Crown Prince is under- 
going. How much mischief may be made by the letters written 
to him (Count Radolinsky) from here, I cannot tell, nor could I 
prevent it. I simply ignore all these and listen to nothing. I wish 
we were over this next month or two. . . , 1 

Five days previously, on February 3, 1888, Bismarck, 
for reasons of his own, published the text of a defensive 
treaty against Russia which Germany and Austria had 
concluded on October 7, 1879, and which had till then 
been kept secret. On receipt of this piece of news the 
Crown Princess wrote to Queen Victoria (February 9) : 

I shall be anxious to hear what Lord Salisbury says to the 
publication of this treaty of alliance between Germany and Austria. 
It is all done in the interests of peace, I think. 

That day, February 9, the long-deferred operation of 
tracheotomy was performed successfully by Dr. Bramann, 
and the Crown Princess again wrote to Queen Victoria : 

This has been a very terrible day of anxiety and distress. Thank 
God the operation was carried out well and all went straight 
dear Fritz is dozing and I am at his bedside. Of course, he cannot 
speak! He breathes quite well now, but the sound of the air 
through that canula is of course very horrid 1 He was only told 
this morning that it was going to be done and gave his consent. 
Bergmann was not waited for! Dr. Bramarm did it very well 
Sir Morell, Dr. Hovell, Krause and Schrader were there next 
door Moretta, Louis and I. I own I was in terror and agonies, as 
you can imagine! I was infinitely relieved when it was over. Poor 
dear, he was so good and patient and made no fuss; I did my 
best to make none either. The arrangements had to be made in a 
great hurry. His bed is in his sitting room. He felt no pain, I 
think, as he was under chloroform. Henry and Charlotte were very 

1 Mary Ponsonby, pp. 265-266. 

375 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 nice to me today and Louis most kind. I am feeling much shaken 
with all the anxiety and I trust all will do well now. 

The news of the operation at once excited Berlin, and 
the rumour quickly spread that the Crown Prince was 
at the point of death, if not already dead! The Crown 
Princess, however, still could not believe that the malady 
was cancer, as will be seen from her letter to Queen 
Victoria of February 12 : 

Fritz has spent a good night. Yesterday evening Professor 
Bergmann arrived and with him Ct. Radolinsky. The latter im- 
mediately said that he had not expected to find Fritz alive, that 
all Berlin was in the state of the wildest excitement and alarm. 
That everyone knew it was cancer and only cancer and that Fritz 
was irrevocably lost, and that at Berlin no one thought of reckoning 
with him, he was already considered as belonging to the past! 
This rubbish only shows you what is thought in the circles in 
which Radolinsky moves. We have asked Sir Morell to put down 
his views in a short statement, also to publish Virchow's last state- 
ment, as everyone at Berlin and my three eldest children are still 
firmly convinced that Virchow has pronounced it to be cancer 
as the result of his investigation. Ctss. Bruhl almost cuts me, 
Fritz's two gentlemen make the longest and stifTest faces. All this 
means that they disbelieve all that is favourable and insist on 
believing the most unfavourable! Bergmann (who can know 
absolutely nothing about Fritz's throat except by hearsay) says it 
is cancer. As he is the first Berlin Surgeon, of course, many of the 
Germans believe him, as they cannot know or understand that he 
has nothing but his conjectures to go by! 

I had rather a stormy evening last night with all these dear 
people, who really seem to lose their senses whenever there is extra 
reason to be calm and collected, firm and judicious. They mean 
very well, but are uncommonly troublesome to deal with. 

The following weeks showed no great change, neither 
in the condition of the patient nor in the hopes of his 
wife that all would be well and that he would recover, 
nor, indeed, in the temper of the Berlin party. On 

276 



SAN REMO 

February 20 the Princess thought that " Fritz is really a 1888 
little better today ... so I am comforted a little, and 
think he is turning the corner and beginning to mend ". 
Referring to the excitement in Berlin she added, " When 
Fritz is really better, and the excitement and alarm sub- 
sides, then all will be much easier. All the gossip at 
Berlin and here is quite ridiculous. The main thing is 
Fritz's health, and please God all these pessimistic views 
are very unnecessary at present." To the " spiteful and 
unkind opposition " she determined to turn the blind eye 
" like Lord Nelson ... it is best not to see things which 
are foolish and only intended to irritate one ". 

A week later there was another consultation over 
the patient. Mackenzie, Bergmann, Schroder and Prof. 
Kussmaul of Strassburg were present, and a squabble 
between their varying views was unfortunately unavoid- 
able. On February 26 the Crown Princess wrote : 

Today has been a very painful day for me! As I foresaw, they 
only sent for poor old Professor Kussmaul from Strassburg to 
endorse their opinion! He is not a specialist, and cannot see with 
the laryngoscope one bit, but notwithstanding this, he tried to 
make an examination of Fritz's throat, which was a very comical 
proceeding I assure you! He saw nothing, but imagined he saw 
a great deal and describes quite fantastically what he did see! The 
principal result was this ! He declares Fritz has nothing whatever the 
matter with the lungs ! I told Bergmann that when Sir M. Mackenzie 
was once allowed to adjust the tubes and treat the throat, the bleed- 
ing would leave off and that when Fritz slept better he would eat 
again, etc., and be a different person. Bergmann said "Ach wenn das 
nur moglich ware}- he will never recover from the state he now is in ! 
He can only get rapidly worse ! ! " I asked the Herr Professor to wait 
a little time and see Fritz again in a fortnight He agreed to this 
with a pitying incredulous smile! Kussmaul said that the evidence 
of cancer was so without doubt and so abundant that he needed 

1 If that were only possible. 

277 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 no other proofs! To all this Sir Morell can only say : " The first 
pathologist in the world has found nothing of the kind! What I 
see of the larynx points in the opposite direction both these 
things together make it impossible for me to affirm that it is 
cancer. Cancer may be there, but I have no convincing evidence! 
I know more about the throat than these gentlemen, who are, the 
one a celebrated surgeon, and the other a general physician, who 
chiefly treats complaints of the stomach, and Virchow's micro- 
scopical examination seems to me more reliable than that of 
Bergmann, Bramann, Krause and Schroder 1 " 

Pray excuse my mentioning such horrid disagreeable details! 

You can fancy how painful it is to me to hear these opinions 
pronounced with such obstinacy so positively. They fail to con- 
vince me, but of course they do easily convince the family, the 
court and the public of Germany and Berlin! They can do Fritz 
no harm, as they cannot give him a disease he has not got ; and 
my life is made quite intolerable, as people think me a maniac for 
not bluntly accepting what a German Professor says. I may not 
even have the benefit of doubt. It is very tiresome that Fritz has 
lost his appetite so completely, and very sad that tracheotomy has 
certainly not answered well. These last three weeks have been a great 
strain and a great pull on Fritz's strength, and I do not wonder 
his being shaken and looking pale and ill, poor dear! Kiissmaul 
and Bergmann mean to go away soon and I hope Fritz will gradu- 
ally resume his usual habits, but the haemorrhage and expectora- 
tion are very troublesome and worrying still and make him very 
dependant, as a doctor has always to be in the room day and night 
to attend to the canula. 

I hope and trust that the rest of Bergmann's and Bramann's 
diagnosis and prognosis may be as true as that Fritz is bleeding 
from the lungs. 

Of course, I am tongue tied. I dare say nothing against the 
infallible wisdom of the German medical authorities, or I should 
be torn to pieces. Whenever I say that things may go all right, I 
am met with incredulous faces of distrust and implying rebuke 
and censure. It is really very unpleasant! However I do not care 
a rap, so long as we can get Fritz on, and of that I do not despair. 

Ten days later she wrote to Queen Victoria : 

I ought already to have thanked you for your dear letter of the 
278 



SAN REMO 

ist and now I have a new one of the 3rd to thank you for too! 1888 
I was so much out of spirits these last two or three days that I could 
not have written a cheerful letter. You will have heard that this 
Prof. Waldeger of Berlin, whom I have not seen and do not 
know, says he has found undoubted evidence of cancer, Le.j such 
an immense quantity of " Nest-cells ". This quite convinces Berg- 
mann, Bramann, Schroder and Krause, as it confirms what Kiiss- 
maul said! I own it fails quite to convince me, although it increases 
the evidence on their side, yet there is the fact that Virchow is 
the great pathologist and microscopist, and as you have read 
yourself, he found no such evidence, as he does not consider mere 
nest-cells as an undoubted proof. Furthermore all the other signs 
from November till now do not bear out the theory of cancer, 
therefore whilst admitting that it may be, yet I do not feel without 
some doubts. Virchow gave a negative opinion and these give a 
positive one. The trouble with the bleeding and the canula is going 
on, but much less since Sir Morell has changed the tubes! This 
last night was the best Fritz has had, less cough and much less 
bleeding! He ate rather better yesterday and really does not feel 
ill and shaken now at all. Bergmann told Willy that his Papa had 
six months to live ! With this idea William has gone away; of course 
this is nonsense, a mere guess and a conjecture. It all went straight 
between Willy and us and was quite harmonious. He left yesterday 
morning! Not one word of sympathy or affection did he utter, 
and I was distressed to see how very haughty he has become, and 
what tremendous airs he gives himself! It is no doubt the effect 
of being told so often that he may be Emperor in less than a year. 
His visit did not do any harm, and he did not meddle this time. 

I am feeling very troubled and anxious and unhappy with all 
this ; and it is hard to feel that people are provoked with me for 
refusing to give up all hope, and not rushing back to Germany 
now, when I know how dangerous it would be for my beloved 
Fritz! No one thinks of that. All they want is to be able to say 
that he is in Germany. I say we must wait till the middle of April ; 
then we can go slowly home! 

The Emperor has not been well these last few days, but is up 
and does his business as usual. 

The next day, March 7, the Crown Princess wrote to 
Lady Ponsonby : 

279 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 I have been longing to write to you for such a time and have 
never had a minute. Of course, you know all the news I send 
from here through the Queen. Again as before, the German 
medical authorities have given the very worst verdict ; again it 
seems to us to lack convincing power, as so many signs of which 
they affirm are wanting. They base all on their newest micro- 
scopic examinations to which we are to trust, seeing that what 
Virchow so explicitly said so short a time ago in no way corre- 
sponds with what Waldeger now says. I am more troubled and 
distressed than I can say quite miserable sometimes, and yet I 
cannot bring myself to see things irrevocably in the very worst 
light, there are so many " ifs " and " buts ". 

I think my dear husband's general condition much improved 
these last few days ; though that odious bleeding goes on, and 
the nights are much broken. His appetite is really improving and 
he looks much better. 

We are rather alarmed about the Emperor this afternoon as he 
is said to be weaker than usual. Heaven grant that we need not 
be whisked off to Germany where it is terribly cold now. The 
Crown Prince has not sufficiently recovered to be able to bear 
the strain of all the business and responsibility which would 
suddenly fall upon him, and my anxiety would increase tenfold, 
as you can imagine. 

This is not a very cheerful letter, but I am really oppressed 
with all these cares and anxieties and long for a ray of hope and 
light in all this darkness. 1 

The concluding sentence about the Emperor fore- 
shadowed a long-expected event. The following day the 
news indicated that the end of the nonagenarian monarch 
was near. The Crown Princess viewed this event with 
no elation, no rapture. Any possible pride or joy there 
might have been in the thought that his death would 
elevate her to the dignity of Empress was entirely 
swamped by the dread certainty that "Fritz" would 
have to leave the sunshine and warmth of San Remo 

1 Mary Ponsonby, pp. 267-268. 
280 



SAN REMO 

for the wintry weather and bustle of Berlin, and to her 1888 
mother she wrote on March 8 : 

As you know, the news of the Emperor is such as to oblige 
us to prepare for all eventualities! I am in terror when I think 
of the journey to Berlin and yet it cannot be helped, or avoided, 
if really the change takes place! Fritz must be there to assume 
the responsibilities of his position, but it is grievous to think of 
the risks he runs and of the painfulness of the whole situation! 
He feels it most bitterly when most he wants his physical powers, 
all his strength and energy, he finds himself an invalid struggling 
to recover from the effects of an operation, and in a delicate and 
sensitive state! Still he will do his duty as best he can and I will 
help him as well as I can. He feels very much the idea of his 
father being perhaps taken from this world without his being able 
to say a last farewell and ask his blessing, or without his being 
there to be a comfort to his mother! All this is very sad, but I 
am thankful to think that Fritz in his present state of health will 
be saved from witnessing the sad and painful scenes and all the 
mournful details which would upset him too much. We shall 
leave on Saturday morning and go straight through without 
stopping, but not to our house. I could not venture to let him 
stay there in the midst of the public, a perfect prisoner ; we shall 
go to Charlottenburg to Bernhard's and Charlotte's rooms, whilst 
they will go to our home in town ! There will at least be a semblance 
of privacy and quiet, and we shall not be so overrun. 

We are now packing everything so as to be ready to go 
together en Uoc\\ It does seem too grievous to leave the sweet 
place, the sun, the sea and flowers. Six weeks more would have 
set Fritz up and he would soon have begun his walks and drives 
again, and it would have done him so much good. Now I do 
not know how we shall get on if sleep and appetite fail. It is all 
like a horrid dream! I shall miss seeing you, which breaks my 
heart! We have so much to do and to think of, to arrange, write 
and telegraph, that I must end here, dearest beloved Mama! I feel 
sure your heart and your thoughts are with us in this time of sore 
trouble and anxiety. 

In view of the facts given in these letters of the 
Crown Princess with reference to the development of the 

281 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 Crown Prince's illness, it is not perhaps out of place to 
quote somewhat extensively from Herr Ludwig's recent 
book. Kaiser Wilkelm II. In his second chapter he states : 

Ever since William's unhappy birth, Victoria (Le. the Crown 
Princess) had stubbornly clung to the nonsensical idea that the 
German physicians were to blame for her son's disability. This 
idee fixe induced her so all her surviving friends agree to under- 
line her distrust of German therapeutics by calling in an English- 
man for her husband. ... At the same time (in 1888) Bismarck 
wrote in his unmistakable style an article in the Norddeutsche 
Allgemeine Zeitung, the purport of which was that Mackenzie now 
declared that he too had quite clearly recognised the disease from 
the first, but that the Crown Prince had confided to him that he did 
not wish to be pronounced incurable, but on high moral and practi- 
cal grounds desired to reign for a short time. ... It is now estab- 
lished beyond question that an unimportant English physician of 
radical political opinions took upon himself to play the Privy 
Councillor, and interfere directly in the history of the German 
nation. 

By this semi-official declaration Bismarck, before all the world, 
displayed his old enemy Victoria as nothing less than the indirect 
cause of the premature death of her husband ; he plainly hinted 
that she preferred to be the widowed Empress rather than the wife 
of an abjuring Prince, the victim of cancer. . . . But we must do 
Victoria the justice to say that she was certainly no tigress, but 
much the reverse an emotional affectionate woman ; and there- 
fore not to be blamed for hoping against hope that her husband's 
life might be saved. 

She stands indicted, nevertheless, for serious indiscretion. She 
summoned from her native land an undistinguished physician, 
simply because she attributed a shortcoming of nature to the 
physicians of the land she had adopted. Or did she wish, in love 
and sympathy, to conceal his doom from her husband ? 

The course of events, moreover, sustains Bismarck's indictment. 
Through all that year Victoria maintained the fiction that the Crown 
Prince was only slightly ailing, that he was better, that he would 
soon be well not only by numerous despatches and protests to the 
public at large, whom on political grounds there was perhaps good 
282 



SAN REMO 

reason to delude ; but with her personal friends and with her chil- 1888 
dren she acted this part for thirteen months, during which her 
husband was visibly failing at her side. Immediately after the fate- 
ful decision in June came her mother's Jubilee. Was she to be 
absent from that ? And was her eldest son to bask in that reflected 
glory ? No and against the advice of her most trusted friends 
Victoria forced her suffering, already wellnigh voiceless husband 
to ride high upon his horse in the London procession, in the hope 
of silencing by that parade the whisperings of rumour. . . . 

Then the English party prevented the Crown Prince's return to 
Berlin, and they wandered, without German physicians, from one 
spa to another ; yet when one considers the unremitting care shown 
by Victoria during all this time, one is again persuaded that she 
really thought it impossible her husband could be suffering from 
cancer. 

At the beginning of November, a sudden change for the worse. 
A sojourn at San Remo, decisive position taken up by the doctors, 
communique in the Rekhsan^eiger that the heir to the throne was 
attacked by cancer; nevertheless an operation was not to take 
place, for the patient did not desire it, and moreover it was probably 
too late. " Prince William is entrusted with the Regency." 

From this day forward the Prince's every nerve was strained. 
He was now in point of fact Crown Prince, and had only to await 
the speedy departure of a nonagenarian, and a fatally stricken, fore- 
runner. And now the hatred of the parents for their son reached 
a commensurable intensity. Thirty years of waiting and then 
Nothingness ! And this crude boy was to step into the vainly- 
longed-for sovereignty like an idle stroller not one hour of 
patience or of struggle ! Frederick's Regent ? Then already he 
was looked upon as dead ? " I am not yet an idiot, or incapable! " 
exclaimed the sufferer, when he heard of his relegation. 1 

The difficulties that beset the would-be historian are 
well illustrated by this account which comes from the 
pen of Dr. Emil Ludwig. With every wish to write a 
true version of these events, this eminent historian had 
to rely for his particulars on the accounts of the German 
doctors and on the articles published at that time in the 

1 Emil Ludwig* Kaiser Wilkelm II. pp. 33-37. 

283 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 German press. The only book that attempts to present 
the other side of the controversy was written by Sir 
Morell Mackenzie, and was not only an ex pane statement 
of fact, but was also universally condemned by the 
medical profession both in Germany and England. 

Divorced from national prejudice, medical rivalry and 
political bias, the story of the Crown Prince's illness 
seems to run as follows. When the Crown Prince first 
showed symptoms of an affection of the throat, the 
principal doctors and surgeons were by degrees sum- 
moned. Among them were some of the most eminent 
men in the profession : probably no more able men were 
to be found in Europe, but not one of them was a 
specialist in throat diseases. These German doctors 
unanimously came to the conclusion that the probabilities 
were that the malady was cancer, but they could prove 
nothing. This was at the time, in view of the medical 
ignorance on this vast subject, a fairly safe opinion to 
give, and in most cases would be right. Mackenzie, how- 
ever, was then sent for, and the weight of evidence proves 
that he was sent for not by a Princess of English birth 
who was reputed to have a bias against German doctors, 
but in consequence of the intervention of Prince Bismarck 
and on the advice of one of the German doctors to which 
the others assented. Mackenzie, on his arrival, knew that 
a swelling of the nature from which the Crown Prince was 
suffering did not necessarily indicate cancer. On three 
different occasions he removed tiny portions of the affected 
part of the larynx^ which he submitted to Professor 
Virchow, a pathologist of European reputation. Virchow, 
after a most thorough investigation of each of the four 
fragments, states that no trace of cancer was to be found. 
Mackenzie thereupon refused to admit the presence of 
284 



SAN REMO 

cancer until some proof was forthcoming, and it must be 1888 
admitted that he played on the uncertainty of the diagnosis 
for all it was worth. The fact remains that although the 
German doctors eventually proved to be right they were 
only relying on surmise, while Mackenzie based his opinion 
on scientific analysis which proved to be misleading. 

The Crown Princess, delighted at Virchow's reports, 
then praised Mackenzie and made tactless remarks which 
not unnaturally the German doctors resented. 

The controversy then ceased to be a medical one, and 
became a question of whether the English doctors (for 
Dr. Hovell was now also in attendance upon the Crown 
Prince) or the German doctors were right. The Crown 
Princess supported the British specialist, and the whole 
German nation supported the German doctors, while the 
Emperor and Bismarck did nothing. 

It was not until the Crown Prince arrived at San 
Remo that proof was forthcoming that the malady was 
cancer, and it was one of the English doctors, Dr. Mark 
Hovell, who raised the alarm. All Germany then rushed 
to the conclusion that Mackenzie was a quack and that 
the Crown Princess had deliberately sacrificed her hus- 
band's life to gain her own ends, while both Mackenzie 
and Queen Victoria were accused of having interfered 
unduly in what was essentially a German question. 

It is unfortunate that Dr. Emil Ludwig has had at his 
disposal the evidence relating to one side only of this tragic 
story. Such misrepresentations of history are hard to cor- 
rect: judge then the feelings of the Crown Princess at the 
time, when these inaccurate and biased statements were 
being made in the German press, while she was unable, on 
account of her position, to enter the polemical arena and 
give her account of the facts of the case as she knew them. 

285 



CHAPTER XI 

THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

1888 ON March 9, 1888, the nonagenarian, William L, died, 
and there began that short ninety-eight days* reign of 
the Emperor and Empress Frederick. The new Emperor, 
now in his fifty-seventh year, showed visible signs of 
his terrible malady, but was still a dominating figure 
and still mentally alert. He was at the Villa Zirio, San 
Remo, when the news was brought of his father's death, 
and immediately the household of the new monarch 
gathered in the drawing-room of the Villa. A little later 
the new Emperor and Empress entered, and the Emperor, 
moving to a small table, wrote out the announcement of 
his own accession as Frederick IIL His next act was to 
invest his consort with the ribbon of the Black Eagle, 
the highest order within his gift. He then greeted Dr. 
Morell Mackenzie and wrote for him the words : " I 
thank you for having made me live long enough to re- 
compense the valiant courage of my wife." How often 
must they have talked over what they would do when 
they ascended the throne, always imagining the splendour 
of Berlin as the scene ! But here they were in the drawing- 
room of a villa in Italy, merely a small party with their 
own suite. It was all rather pathetic, but the indomitable 
pluck of the Emperor and the devotion of his wife made 
it impressive as a ceremony. 

It was essential that the new Emperor and Empress 
286 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

should at once proceed to Berlin. The decision to go 1888 
was made by the Emperor, and within twenty-four hours 
they were en route. Much criticism was levelled at the new 
Empress for bringing back the Emperor to Berlin, but 
the decision was his. Always he had put duty before 
comfort, and he was not the man to abdicate or fall short 
even on the brink of the grave. Before they left San 
Remo the Empress wrote to Queen Victoria (March 9) : 

The sad news has just come that the dear Emperor has passed 
away! Fritz is deeply affected, feels intensely being absent from 
his post and is determined to go there, come what may, and to 
run the risk. I cannot tell you how anxious I feel and how nervous, 
and yet I am sure he is right! Your thoughts are with us I know! 
I dread the journey even less than all we shall find when we get 
there. Sir Morell has taken the greatest trouble to ensure all pos- 
sible precaution being taken, and we must leave the rest in God's 
hands. 

Thank God that the end was gentle and peaceful and without 
pain! What a long and strange career that has been! To think 
of my poor Fritz succeeding his father as a sick and stricken man 
is so hard!! How much good he might have done! Will time be 
given him? I pray that it may and he may be spared to be a 
blessing to his people and to Europe. Excuse my ending here 
we are overwhelmed with business and packing, etc. 

The journey was swift, and on the evening of March 
ii the Imperial party arrived at Berlin. The Emperor at 
once took up the reins, although the change from the 
warm, sunny, equable climate of San Remo to the sleet 
and slush of Berlin must have been a terrible hardship. 
More than that, the change from the quiet, health-giving 
leisureliness of San Remo to the business and bustle of 
the German court, where everything was at sixes and 
sevens, was one that might have tried the constitution of 
even the fittest. 

Two days of such hectic energy were sufficient to 

287 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 send the Emperor back to bed, and it was a distressed 
wife who wrote to Queen Victoria on March 13 : 

How can I thank you enough for your dear letter of the loth, 
so kind and loving and so precious to mel I wish I could kiss 
your dear hand for it directly 1 I know you will forgive me if 
I cannot write today as I should like! It is all like a dream and I 
am so overwhelmed with business of all sorts and kinds, things 
important and unimportant that have to be seen to. I am not in 
our own home and cannot find my things yet! One's heart is 
torn and tortured with fears and anxiety and yet I am glad to 
think that my beloved Fritz has the satisfaction of feeling that he 
is at home, though this is also full of pain as you can understand. 

The journey was a great risk and a great fatigue and has done 
him harm, but I hope and trust in a few days the effect may be 
got over. The night was not good. Of course, the change is 
immense, from the life of an invalid to one of business and excite- 
ment, far beyond what he is at present fit for. I do what I can 
to help him, but the difficulties are immense. I will write and tell 
you all as soon as I can! I am feeling dreadfully knocked up and 
cannot sleep! Darling Fritz has had to remain in bed today, as 
the doctors were not at all satisfied this morning! I hope this 
night will be better! 

The poor Emperor looked so peaceful sleeping in his coffin and 
yet the sight of death to me just now, when so many fears fill my 
heart, was agony! I cannot say more. The Empress I think 
wonderfully calm and composed, and looking better and stronger 
and a little stouter than when I saw her last! Louise and Fritz of 
Baden are marvellously calm and collected! 

All else I would say, I must put off till another time questions, 
letters, telegrams, visits come pouring in, and I like to devote all 
my time to staying with Fritz. 

In some quarters the accession of the Emperor 
Frederick was expected to see the end of the power of 
Bismarck. The opposition of the Emperor and Empress 
to parts of Bismarck's policy was widely known, and it 
was expected that one of the first acts of the new reign 
would be the replacement of the Chancellor by someone 
288 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

more in accordance with the liberal ideas of the Emperor 1888 
and Empress. But between Bismarck and the Imperial 
k pair there was ? in spite of surface differences, a funda- 
mental and mutual appreciation. The Empress, as Bis- 
marck himself said, " shared with him (the Emperor) the 
conviction that in the interests of the dynasty it was 
necessary that I should be maintained in office at the 
change of reign "J- and one of the new Emperor's first 
acts was to write to Bismarck a letter inviting him to 
continue as Chancellor. The message, dated March 12, 
ran: 

MY DEAR PRINCE On assuming power I feel the necessity of 
addressing you, the long- tried first servant of my father, who now 
rests in God. You have been the faithful and brave adviser who 
gave shape to the aims of his policy, and secured their successful 
realisation. I and my House are and remain most grateful to you. 
You, therefore, have, above all, a right to know the principles 
which will direct me in my rule. 

The constitutional and legal regulations of the Empire and of 
Prussia must, above all, be consolidated in the respect and customs 
of the nation. It is, therefore, necessary to avoid, as far as possible, 
the shock caused by repeated changes of the institutions and laws 
of the State. The furtherance of the task of the Imperial Govern- 
ment must leave untouched the bases on which the Prussian State 
has hitherto safely rested. In the Empire the constitutional rights 
of all the Federal Governments must be as conscientiously respected 
as those of the Reichstag ; but the same respect for the rights of the 
Emperor must be demanded from both. At the same time, it is 
necessary to keep in view that these mutual rights are only intended 
for the promotion of the public welfare, which remains the supreme 
law, and that new and unquestionable national needs must always 
be fully satisfied. As the necessary and certain guarantee of the un- 
disturbed furtherance of this task, I look to the maintenance un- 
weakened of the defensive forces of the country, of my tried Army 
and growing Navy, which has serious duties before it in the 

1 Busch's Bismarck. 

U 289 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 protection of our possessions beyond the seas. They must both 
be maintained at their present perfection of organisation, to which 
they owe their glory, and which insures their future capacity to. 
accomplish their duty. 

I am resolved to conduct the Government both of the Empire 
and of Prussia with a conscientious observation of the stipulations 
of the respective Constitutions of the Empire and of die State. 
They were founded by my ancestors on the Throne in wise recogni- 
tion of the necessities and difficulties incident to the social and 
political life of the nation, and they must be respected by everyone 
in order to give proof of their power and beneficial influence. I 
will that the principle of religious tolerance, for centuries past held 
sacred by my House, shall also for the future be maintained as a 
protection to all my subjects, to whatever religious community or 
creed they may belong. Everyone of them is equally near to my 
heart, for they have all given equal proofs of like devotion in days 
of danger. In perfect accord with the views of my Imperial father, 
I shall -warmly support all efforts destined to further the economic 
progress of every class of society, to conciliate their divergent 
interests, and to mitigate, as far as possible, unavoidable social in- 
equalities without, however, exciting the expectation that this can 
be done by State interference. Closely connected with the social 
question I consider that of the cultivation of youth, and the efforts 
to this end must be on a higher scale and be made more widely 
accessible. "We must, therefore, avoid raising fresh dangers by 
partial education, and awakening demands beyond the economic 
capacity of the nation to meet. We must also take care that through 
one-sided efforts for increased knowledge, the task of education 
shall not remain neglected. Only a generation trained up upon the 
sound basis of the fear of God and simplicity of morals can possess 
sufficient power of resistance to surmount the perils which in a time 
of rapid economic development arise for the entire community 
through the examples of the highly luxurious life of individuals. 

It is my will that in the public service no opportunity should 
be lost of offering every opposition to the temptation to inordi- 
nate expenditure. My unbiased consideration of every proposal 
of financial reform is assured in advance, unless the long-proved 
economy of Prussia does not permit. The imposition of fresh 
burdens is to be avoided, and an alleviation of the demands hitherto 
made on the country to be effected. The self-government granted 
290 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

to the larger and smaller communities in the State I regard as 1888 
beneficial. On the other hand, I would suggest for examination 
the question whether the right of taxation conferred upon these 
communities, which may he exercised by them without making 
allowance for the burden concurrently imposed by the Empire 
and the State, does not weigh unfairly upon individuals. Similarly, 
it will have to be considered whether simplification in the arrange- 
ments does not appear admissible by which a reduction in the 
number of officials would permit of an increase in their salaries. 
Should we succeed in maintaining the vigour of the principles of 
political and social life, I shall have special gratification in watching 
the full development of the rich progress of German science and art. 
For the realisation of these my intentions I rely on your oft- 
proved devotion, and on the support of your tried experience. May 
I be destined thus to lead Germany and Prussia in a course of peace- 
ful development to new honours, with the unanimous co-operation 
of the Imperial organs, of the devoted activity of the representatives 
of the people and of all the authorities, and with the confiding 
assistance of all classes of society. Not caring for the splendour of 
great deeds, nor striving for glory, I shall be satisfied if it be one 
day said of my rule that it was beneficial to my people, useful to my 
country and a blessing to the Empire. 

Yours very affectionately, 

FREDERICK HI. 

The new Empress still could not realise that at most 
her husband could live but a few months : on the other 
hand many members of the German medical profession, 
and many of the chief officials of state, were certain that 
the Emperor was already in articulo mortis. The result 
was a clash between the Emperor's party and those who 
looked forward eagerly to the displacement of a speech- 
less sovereign by a young and reputedly able prince. 

The Empress had only been in Berlin three days when 
these intrigues came to her notice, and on March 15 she 
wrote to her mother from Charlottenburg : 

I think Fritz's proclamation and also his letter to Prince 
Bismarck produced the right impression 3 I think Bismarck was 

291 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 surprised at receiving these papers all ready for publication and 
written out in Fritz's own hand ! 

It is very evident that all sorts of intrigues were going on 
before he came back and that some were very glad at our return, 
others taken aback; most people supposed Fritz would return 
merely to resign! Underlying everything is the belief that the 
present reign will only last a very few months, and this has all 
sorts of consequences! Most of those who have seen Fritz think 
him far better and looking more unchanged than they expected 

The Empress's relations with the Iron Chancellor 
were certainly more cordial after the accession than ever 
they had been before. The Empress found him " civil 
and nice ", and the Chancellor for his part realised that it 
was essential to conciliate the Empress. 

On March 16, 1888, at Berlin, the solemn national 
funeral of the late Emperor took place. The new Em- 
peror, unable to attend, watched the funeral cortege from 
his palace window. The Prince of Wales had arrived 
to represent Queen Victoria at the obsequies, and his 
presence did much to smooth the path of the Empress 
Frederick. That day she wrote from Charlottenburg to 
Queen Victoria : 

This trying day is over at last, and I feel so thankful that Fritz 
has stood all the painful emotion and excitement so well. It was 
all so hard for him! My thoughts wandered during the ceremony 
in the Dom to you and our beloved grandmama, who was taken 
from us this day 27 years ago. All went off well, there was no 
hitch in spite of the bitter cold weather sharp frost and deep 
snow! The public was respectful and silent, there were no great 
crowds. The service I thought rather conventional, stiff and cold ; 
the singing was very good! One can hardly talk of service in the 
German Church, as it is only an address and an extempore prayer, 
both of which I did not think very happy on this occasion! The 
hearse was very simple indeed! On account of the bitter weather 
Fritz could not leave his room, and I was unable to be with him 
at the sad moment. When the hearse passed close under his 
292 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

window he quite broke down and was overwhelmed by his feelings, 1888 
as you may well imagine! Directly afterwards we went to him 
and he was calm again and is now resting a little in bed. He had 
rather a better night and does not feel uncomfortable. Yesterday 
he saw far too many people and was too much fatigued today 
he has kept comparatively quite quiet. 

To have dear Bertie here was a great comfort, though alas, I 
have not seen a very great deal of him ! There is an immense deal 
to do as you can imagine and all is most difficult and complicated. 
I think people in general consider us a mere passing shadow, soon 
to be replaced by reality in the shape of William. I may be wrong, 
but it seems to me as if the party that opposed and ill-treated us 
so long, hardly think it worth while to change their attitude, except 
very slightly as they count on a different future! 

It is an inestimable blessing to be relieved from a thraldom 
and tyranny which was exercised over us in the poor Emperor's 
name, as now the right thing can be done for Fritz's health! 
But oh if it is not too late! too late! This agonising thought 
haunts me! Yes, we are our own masters now, but shall we not 
have to leave all the work undone which we have so long and 
so carefully been preparing ? Will there be any chance of doing 
the right thing, any time to carry out useful measures, needful 
reforms? Every German who means well, asks himself this 
question with bitter pain! It is hard, it is cruel! I hope on and 
live du jour an lendemain. " Enough for the day is the evil 
thereof, let the morrow take care of itself." All the more we shall 
strive to do what is wisest and safest and best! Prudence and 
caution are necessary now where fresh and vigorous regeneration 
of many an obsolete and used up thing would have been desirable! 
You know and feel all this, I am sure! Prince Bismarck has been 
civil and nice and I think feels quite at his ease, 

A month later, in mid-April 1888, Queen Victoria, 
accompanied by Prince and Princess Henry of Battenberg 
and attended by the Dowager Lady Churchill, the Hon. 
Harriet Phipps, Sir Henry Ponsonby and Major Bigge 
(afterwards Lord Stamfordham), paid a visit to her 
daughter and dying son-in-law at Charlottenburg. Just 
before her arrival, all Berlin was agog with rumours of 

293 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 the resignation of Bismarck. The wishes of the Emperor 
and the Chancellor were at that moment in grave conflict, 
and the subject of their disagreement was once more the 
future of the rwenty-two-year-old Princess Victoria, the 
second daughter of the Emperor and Empress Frederick. 
The parents still favoured what they believed to be a love 
match, and rumour was rife that the Princess was shortly 
to be engaged, if not already engaged, to Prince Alexander 
of Battenberg. 

It will be remembered that while Prince Alexander 
was still on the Bulgarian throne the projected alliance 
had only been prevented by the determined interposition 
of Bismarck. Possibly Bismarck foresaw that Prince 
Alexander would have but a brief tenure of power at 
Sofia, and was then actuated by a kindly desire to save a 
Hohenzollern Princess from associating her fortune with 
a Prince whose destiny was so uncertain. Whatever his 
motives then, his reasons during the crisis of 1888 seem 
to have been dictated solely by considerations of political 
expediency. There was still a party in Sofia that would 
have welcomed the return of Prince Alexander, and 
Bismarck saw that the Prince's marriage would strengthen 
the hopes of this party, and possibly embroil Germany 
with Russia in the confusion that would follow. 

The rumoured resignation did not appear to affect in 
any way Queen Victoria's plans or make Her Majesty 
hesitate to visit Berlin on her way home from Florence, 
but she was relieved to receive the following message 
from the Empress on April 5 : 

Please be in no anxiety. Crisis of Chancellor is an invention : 
we have never been on better terms and the understanding is 
perfect. Your visit must on no account be given up. 

This message was, however, somewhat neutralised 
294 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

by a letter which Queen Victoria received from Lord 1888 
Salisbury a day or two later, dated April 6. In the 
course of his letter Lord Salisbury said : 

... Sir E. Malet telegraphed to Lord Salisbury last night 
privately that the Chancellor had spoken very earnestly to him 
about the proposed marriage between the Princess Victoria and the 
Prince Alexander, stating that he should retire if it took place. Sir 
E. Malet asked as to the course he should take as to this communica- 
tion. Lord Salisbury advised him that so grave a communication 
should not be withheld from Your Majesty : but he thought it 
should be sent direct, as it was too closely connected with Your 
Majesty's family to be admitted into official communications with 
this office. Count Hatzfeldt renewed the subject this afternoon. 
Lord Salisbury repeated the same opinion to him. Count Hatzfeldt 
however said nothing about Prince Bismarck's resignation, but 
only that such an event would force Germany into taking a much 
more Russian line of policy than otherwise she would be inclined 
to do. 

Three days later, April 9, Queen Victoria sent the fol- 
lowing message to Lord Salisbury : 

Queen has heard from Empress Victoria that she had long inter- 
view with Bismarck on 6th, which was very satisfactory on all 
points, and she begs Queen not to notice absurd statements in 
newspapers. 

This again seemed to be somewhat at variance with 
other accounts of Bismarck's attitude, for on April 8 
Lord Salisbury cyphered to Queen Victoria : 

I have received several private telegrams from Sir E. Malet 
showing that Prince Bismarck is in one of his raging moods about 
the proposed marriage. 

He shows temper against Your Majesty and as at such times he 
is quite unscrupulous he will probably try to give currency to 
statements which are designed to make Your Majesty personally 
responsible for any evil results of his own violent passion. He has 

295 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 a vast corrupt influence over the press and can give enormous 
circulation to rumours. I would humbly advise Your Majesty to 
avoid any action which could operate with the controversy which 
is going on. The newspapers say that Your Majesty is going to 
Potsdam or Berlin. I would humbly submit that this visit at this 
time would expose You to great misconstruction and possibly to 
some disrespectful demonstration. German Chancellor is reported 
by his son to be in a state of intense exasperation. . . . 

The Queen was, however., very angry at the way her 
daughter was being treated and sent the following instruc- 
tion to Sir Henry Ponsonby on April 9 : 

Perhaps Sir Henry would write to Lord Salisbury about the 
outrageous conduct of Pee. Wm., and of the terrible cerde 
vicieux which surrounds the unfortunate Emperor and Empress 
and which makes Bismarck's conduct really disloyal, wicked and 
really unwise in the extreme! The Queen sends the Empress's 
letter to enable Sir Henry to quote parts of it. Russia really 
cannot care a straw about Prince Alexander's marriage unless 
they admit the probability, if not likelihood, of his returning to 
Bulgaria!! 

How Bismarck and still more William can play such a double 
game it is impossible for us honest, straightforward English to 
understand. Thank God! we are English I The Queen will also 
write to Lord Salisbury by messenger leaving tomorrow. It troubles 
and distresses the Queen very much. But the threat thrown out by 
Russia is one which the Queen thinks impudent and impertinent 
beyond measure. 

The Queen got a letter by messenger from Lord Salisbury 
explaining the whole thing, but she only saw it after Sir Henry left 
yesterday, but which she will send Sir Henry later. 

Meanwhile, the belief that with the approval of the 
Empress, Prince Alexander had engaged himself to the 
Princess Victoria, caused a domestic and political crisis 
in Berlin. Bismarck professed to regard the betrothal 
as a nefarious plot on the part of the Empress to em- 
broil Germany with Prince Alexander's enemy, the Tsar, 
296 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

and he found Prince William vigorously supporting his 1888 
attitude. 1 

Queen Victoria now found the situation very puzzling, 
and on April 7 her Private Secretary, Sir Henry Ponsonby, 
wrote to Sir Edward Malet, who had been appointed 
British Ambassador to Berlin on Lord AmpthilPs death 
in 1884 : 

Reuter says Princess Victoria betrothed. I ascertained that the 
Queen is opposed to it and so are Prince and Princess Henry (of 
Battenberg). I was allowed to tell you this, but it is not desirable to 
repeat it to the Empress. 

Two days later Sir E. Malet replied to Sir Henry : 

I am most grateful to you for giving me the information con- 
tained in your letter of the yth^ and I have made use of it in the 
particular quarter where it appeared absolutely necessary. There 
has been a terrible storm here on the subject, a regular blizzard, and 
I was most glad of the ray of sunshine coming from you. It will go 
far to dissipate the cloud. 

Four days later, April 13, Queen Victoria, still at 
Florence, noted for Sir Henry Ponsonby : 

The Queen got this cypher (a private one which is similar to one 
used between Dr. Reid and the doctors) in answer to her letter in 
which she told him of Lord Salisbury's cypher. She cannot under- 
stand how this agrees with Sir E. Malet's letters I That it is all got 
up for a purpose the Queen does not doubt and also that Herbert 
Bismarck and Wm. are at the bottom of it. 

The Empress's reception on her rapid journey has shown to that 
wicked clique at Berlin how popular she and her dear Emperor are 
in the country! 

"(Repeat it.)" 

That day Sir Henry Ponsonby wrote to Sir E. Malet : 

I am commanded by the Queen to thank you for your letter of 
the yth instant which Her Majesty received last night by messenger, 

1 Life of Edward VIL, Sir S. Lee, i. p. 501. 

297 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 in which you communicate to her an account of Prince Bismarck's 
reasons for intending to resign, which you consider were of such a 
private nature that you could not give them in an official despatch 
but which were communicated to the newspapers immediately after 
or possibly before His Serene Highness had spoken to you. 

The Queen is quite unable to understand how the visit of a 
private individual, such as Prince Alexander of Battenberg is now, 
could have aroused distrust in Russia to such an extent as to have 
made such an event a cause of danger to the peace between the two 
countries, and she must confess that she is surprised that Germany 
should be dictated to by the Czar, who has, you say, a craze against 
Prince Alexander which as far as the Queen can learn is not shared 
by the Russian nation. 

Nor is it easy to see how the marriage of Prince Alexander and 
Princess Victoria could in any way cement the union of Russia and 
France against Germany or cause estrangement between England 
and Germany. Surely the prognostications of such great European 
changes arising out of a marriage of this sort are absurd. Prince 
Bismarck appeals to the Queen, who, he supposes, favours the mar- 
riage. He is as much mistaken in this supposition as he is in his other 
conclusions, if he imagines that the Queen has urged this marriage. 
No doubt she would be glad if the Prince and Princess wished to 
marry and if the Imperial family of Germany welcomed such a pro- 
posal, that it should take place, but all the details could have been 
easily and privately discussed without making a state affair out of a 
family matter. 

As far as the Queen can learn, the Chancellor allowed his in- 
tended resignation to be announced to the world before consulting 
the Empress upon this question, and it would appear that after he 
had seen Her Imperial Majesty matters were arranged. 

This storm might therefore have been avoided if Prince Bis- 
marck had only taken the trouble to inform himself more fully of 
the facts of the case. 

That same day, April 13, 1888, Colonel Leopold 
Swaine, the British Military Attach^ in Berlin, -wrote to 
the Prince of Wales, and sent a copy of his letter to Sir 
H. Ponsonby : 

... As regards the ** Marriage Question '*, I have the following 
298 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

statement to make which I believe to be perfectly authentic. Al- 1888 
ready within the first week of their Majesties' arrival in Charlotten- 
burg the Empress determined to bring this matter on without delay 
and Prince Alexander was invited to Berlin. Whether he was only to 
arrive on Princess Victoria's birthday or already earlier is not quite 
clear. At any rate nothing as to this proposed visit was made known 
to the Chancellor. There is no doubt that he heard it by accident 
and many odd stories are told giving the supposed authoritative 
version how it became known to him. 

Most persons are agreed that the moment was inopportune for 
starting this project which had been so warmly condemned by the 
late Emperor ; and also, that it should have been done without in 
any way acquainting the Chancellor, who had so strongly supported 
the late Emperor against it for state reasons, is equally blamed. 

I understand it was the latter more than the former which 
irritated the Chancellor, but whether he absolutely threatened to 
resign or not I cannot say. I am inclined to doubt it ; although 
it is probable that he stated it would be impossible for him to 
remain in office if the marriage took place. 

It was a fortnight ago yesterday, or will be tomorrow, since the 
Chancellor heard of it, and the pourparlers had been going on for 
nearly a week before we learnt anything about it. . . . 

I have heard from several sources that Prince Alexander is by 
no means anxious himself for the marriage. He had a good political 
reason for it when Prince of Bulgaria and, while trying to shake off 
Russian influence, he was anxious through this marriage to ensure 
German support. But all that is past and he is now reported to have 
em idrtliches Verhaltniss with a member of the histrionic art. 

We are living in sad times here in Berlin. Not sad alone because 
we have an Emperor at death's door, nor sad only because there 
are family disagreements, but sad, doubly sad, because almost all 
officials perhaps with exceptions, but I know them not are be- 
having in a way as if the last spark of honour and faithful duty 
had gone they are all trimming their sails. 

It seems as if a curse had come over this country, leaving but 
one bright spot and that is where stands a solitary woman doing 
her duty faithfully and tenderly by her sick husband against aU odds. 
It is one of the most, if not the most, tragic episodes in a country 
and a life ever recorded in history. 

The Emperor was far from well yesterday, indeed I believe that 

299 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 there was a moment of grave anxiety. A new " canula " had to be 
inserted. But the night was a good one and His Majesty was in 
town this morning. 

This is a letter full of painful facts and I can assure you. Sir, that 
we all feel it most grievously no one is telling the truth, and all 
are intriguing for self. 

To this letter Colonel Swaine added the "Very 
private " postscript : " We have been told that not only 
the Queen, but also Prince and Princess Henry of Batten- 
berg are strongly opposed to the marriage. 5 ' 

It was about this time that Queen Victoria sent the 
following message to the Empress : " Don't contem- 
plate marriage without full consent of William. It would 
never do to contract a marriage he would not agree 
to. Sandro's marriage might ruin his whole prospect in 
life." 

On April 13 Queen Victoria sent the following 
message in cypher to Lord Salisbury, the British Foreign 
Secretary : 

I cannot understand Bismarck's excitement. Three weeks ago 
I advised the Empress to take no steps at present in the matter. 
Prince Alexander's family do not favour his marriage, particularly 
under existing circumstances, and unless accepted by one person it 
would be impossible. But Bismarck's tyranny is unbearable, and 
I cannot abandon my intention of seeing the dear suffering Emperor 
whom I could never see at San Remo. 

Queen Victoria had now taken up a very decided 
attitude, and on April 21, while still at Florence, wrote 
to Lord Salisbury : 

The Queen thanks Lord Salisbury for his letter and wishes just 
to say in continuation of what she sent by cypher yesterday that she 
is sorry to see how Sir Ed. Malet seems to see things through Prince 
and still more Herbert Bismarck's eyes. She cannot conceive 

300 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

what the object of their conduct has been in repeating things as they 1 888 
did and above all in Prince Bismarck's conversation with Sir Ed. 
Malet and in his sending what almost amounted to a message! to the 
Queen. It was too outrageous. In the last letter the Queen received 
from her daughter, dated i3th, she says : " I do not wonder that you 
should have been startled and alarmed as many people were, by the 
senseless^ ridiculous and violent storm in the press, about Vicky and 
Sandro ! If you knew why all this row was made, you would see 
more clearly, that the reason was a futile one I Our relations with 
the Chancellor never have been more cordial or agreeable ; and you 
well know that Fritz is too calm and prudent and experienced to 
jeopardize peace or the interests of Germany in any way. Fritz 
wished to have Sandro here on Easter Monday, to give him 
the order Pour le m&rite and a Brigade (not even a Division). 
"Whether or not a Verlolung was to have followed was a question 
which had not been raised. Prince B. did not wish Fritz to carry 
out the intention (which he has had ever since Sandro's return 
from Bulgaria) of employing him in the army (for he is their fittest 
General) and said that he considered that step one which would 
affront the Czar (what an humiliating position for Germany to be 
in), while quite admitting that it was most regrettable the Czar 
shouldlotik upon it as an offence." 

Intrigues of William, etc., followed, and someone must have put 
it in the papers! It is disgraceful double dealing, and altogether a 
dreadful business and state of affairs. That poor quiet Baroness E. 
Stockmar should be distrusted and her letters watched and possibly 
tampered with is too bad. The poor Empress is not to have a single 
true friend. What makes the Queen so angry is that Sir E. Malet 
believes everything which the Bismarcks tell him. He should be 
warned to enquire from Sir H. Ponsonby before believing such 
things about people. 

With the Queen's arrival at Charlottenburg on April 
24, Bismarck seized the opportunity to put before her 
what he considered to be the facts about the projected 
matrimonial contract, and through the British Ambas- 
sador made tactful inquiry as to when the Queen could 
see him. On April 24 Sir E. Malet wrote to Sir Henry 
Ponsojiby : 

301 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 I have communicated with Prince Bismarck and he will wait 
upon the Queen at 12 tomorrow. 

If Her Majesty could also see Count Bismarck for a moment at 
some time or another I think it would be useful. He is very English 
in his likings and would be greatly pleased at such attention from 
the Queen. 

The following day, April 25, the interview between 
the Queen and the Chancellor took place. Both were in 
agreement that the Battenberg alliance would be a mis- 
take, and when the Empress found her mother ranged 
with the opposition, she yielded. Bismarck had won, 
and the price, so the Empress thought bitterly, was her 
daughter's happiness. Bismarck's own account of the 
interview runs as follows : 

. . . Grandmamma behaved quite sensibly at Charlottenburg. 
She declared the attitude of the Chief in the Battenberg marriage 
scheme to be quite correct, and urged her daughter to change her 
ways. Of course it was very nice of her not to forget her own 
country and to wish to benefit it where it was possible for her to do 
so, but she needed the attachment of the Germans, and should 
endeavour to secure it ; and finally she brought about a reconcilia- 
tion between Prince William and his mother. 1 

In a later conversation, Busch records that he men- 
tioned to the Chancellor " what Bucher had told me about 
the sensible attitude adopted by the Queen of England at 
Charlottenburg, which he (Bismarck) confirmed, adding 
that at the interview which he had with her he had in 
part prompted the admonitions which she addressed to 
her daughter ", 2 

But a more correct version of the visit is contained 
in two letters written by Sir E. Malet to Lord Salisbury 
on April 28. In the first he says : 

1 Busch's Bismarck, vol. iii. p. 187. 

2 Ibid. p. 198. 
302 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

There is no doubt that the Queen's visit to Berlin has been a 1888 
political success. 

The circumstances under which Her Majesty's journey was 
undertaken, had induced a vague apprehension that it might be 
more prudent for Her Majesty not to come. Acting on a complete 
misapprehension with regard to the attitude of Her Majesty in con- 
nection with an anticipated betrothal of Princess Victoria of Prussia 
to Prince Alexander of Battenberg, the portion of the press which 
is supposed to write in accordance with inspiration from the 
Government had denounced foreign influence in the internal affairs 
of Germany, and although the fundamental error of the argument 
had been almost officially exposed, the flood of insolent writing 
which had been let loose did not quickly subside, and it was feared 
that the greeting which might await Her Majesty on arrival would 
not be cordial, and that on this account the feeling between Eng- 
land and Germany, already somewhat estranged through misrepre- 
sentations of the press, might be further embittered. It is there- 
fore with no common degree of satisfaction that I am able to record 
that the exact reverse has taken place. The breach, such as it was, 
has been closed, not widened. The hearty cheers with which Her 
Majesty was greeted by dense crowds during her drive through 
Berlin, proved how little effect the venom of the press had upon the 
people, and the general feeling with regard to the result of the visit 
is that it has done great and, it is to be hoped, lasting good. 

I may say that this view is shared by many with whom I have 
spoken, of whom it cannot be said that their opinion is the result of 
the wish being father to the thought. 

It is believed that the interchange of personal communication 
of the Queen with the Empress Augusta, the Crown Prince, and 
Prince Bismarck, has been of the highest value in freely brushing 
away industriously woven cobwebs, and the spiders, of which un- 
fortunately there are too many, have had to retire to their holes. 

Prince Bismarck has openly expressed the great satisfaction 
which he derived from his conversation with the Queen, and has 
said that if the action of England should correspond with the sound 
sense and practical character of the views held by Her Majesty, the 
danger of a European war would be minimised. 

The grateful tribute to the Queen, which appeared in last night's 
North German Gazette, of which I have the honour to enclose a copy 
and translation, is a fitting epilogue to the Royal visit, which has 

303 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 ended so happily and shown that good will and cordial relations 
between England and Germany are once more the order of the day 
with the inspired press. 

The second letter ran : 

You will, ere this reaches you, have heard all about the Queen's 
visit both from Her Majesty and the Duke of Rutland. There is no 
doubt that it has done much good and that the evil spirits of con- 
tention and slander have had to slink away for the time being. 
Prince William (the present Crown Prince) spoke about it to me 
in warm terms and seemed to be delighted at having had an oppor- 
tunity of conversing with Her Majesty. He told me also that the 
Chancellor was greatly pleased with his conversation with the 
Queen and that he had said to Her Majesty that her visit to Italy, 
Austria, and Germany, was like an officer going the round of the 
outposts and seeing that the pickets were all doing their duty, and 
that it would have an excellent effect in strengthening and encourag- 
ing the league of the Central Powers. Altogether I may say that on 
this side there is an evident desire, not to say anxiety, to come round 
to the point at which we were when the " Chancellor Crisis " arose 
and caused our confidence to waver. 

At the dinner at the Palace at which the Chancellor sat opposite 
to the Queen and the Empress he ardently did his best to be amiable 
and agreeable, and I could not help being amused when at dessert 
he selected a large bonbon adorned with a photograph of the 
Empress and, after calling Her Majesty's attention to it in some 
graceful words, unbuttoned his coat and placed it next his heart. In 
short to the outward eye there has been a general healing of mental 
irritation. 

The Queen looked extremely well and was, I believe and hope, 
much pleased with the whole visit. 

Late that evening, April 25, Queen Victoria left Berlin 
for England, via Leipzig and Dresden, and the British 
Minister in Dresden, Sir G. Strachey, wrote to Sir Henry 
Ponsonby (April 25) : 

I was very sorry that the Queen passed through Leipzig in the 
night. 

That town, which is hyper-Bismarckian (especially National- 

304 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

Liberal) and Dresden, which is ultra- Conservative, have shown a 188$* 
maximum of hatred of the Empress and the Queen. The Leipzig 
Nat.-Lib. Gren^botsn^ an equivalent (in a weak fashion) to our 
Fortnightly, which has been often utilised by Bismarck, published 
the other day a long tirade against the two royal ladies, in which the 
insolence and venom of the Prussian " reptiles " were almost sur- 
passed. The folly and vulgarity of the similar lucubrations here 
pass belief. Thefreisinnige party in Saxony is weak, so that their 
voice cries in the desert ; but they have defended the Emperor, the 
Empress and the Queen, with great courage, and pertinacity, and 
their Dresden organ exhausts the superlatives of eulogy every day 
in praise of all three. As in Berlin, the Radicals (who, after all, are 
only on the political level of our Tories) are admirably loyal, while 
the Bismarckites are behaving like Anarchists. 

For the moment, it would seem as if the " reptile " press had 
received a hint to prepare for a change of front. One of the Berlin 
gang has the audacity to dilate on " the Reichskanzler's touching, 
devoted love for his all-highest master", which may indicate that 
Bismarck thinks that the Emperor's recovery is possible. 

At the great official dinner on the King's birthday, I found that 
all the political summits agreed that Bismarck was the moral, per- 
haps the material, author of the whole Hevp, and although the 
majority present were " grave-diggers " no one much dissented 
from the very undiplomatic language in which I relieved my feelings 
at his expense. 

Queen Victoria arrived in England on April 27, and 
two days later she received the following letter from the 
Empress : 

It all seems like a dream 1 Your dear visit so ardently wished 
and hoped for has come and gone like lightning! But not without 
having left much comfort and gratitude behind it, especially in my 
heart! 

I am indeed thankful that you were able to come and that the 
pleasure and emotion did dearest Fritz no harm! Alas, there was 
too much to make your visit terribly sad, but still it is sweet to 
share not only the bright, but also the dark hours of life with those 
one loves!! Why those dark hours are sent we shall never know, 
nor understand! Our ideas of justice, of mercy, etc., are too small 

x 305 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 and too human, to help us to fathom the reasons that govern the 
Universe immutably, by the same great Will that called all into 
existence; therefore we must accept and believe that what is our 
individual misery and destruction is good and right and necessary 
for the whole of which we are so infinitesimal a part ; but our own 
soul writhes and sends up a bitter cry so long as we live and 
hope and work and aspire and think and look forward! The 
greatest of helps is the sympathy and love of those near and dear 
to us it is the balm that Heaven has placed within the reach of 
the suffering at least, which is not denied to many! and I am 
truly thankful for this most precious treasure! Your motherly 
kindness and affection has done me good and has refreshed my 
aching heart I 

I have been back into your empty rooms with a heavy heart! 
I fancied you in the cold, wintry night, on your way to Flushing, 
and yesterday on the dear yacht, which I am sure tossed a good 
deal, and this morning at dear Windsor in your own comfortable 
and splendid home! 

Your visit gave much satisfaction here and I did not hear or 
read one remark to the contrary. Fritz has really had less fever 
and has taken his food quite nicely (comparatively speaking) and 
has dozed a good bit by day! The cough has not been very 
frequent! I hope that the impressions you took away were not 
altogether only painful ones! 

Lord Salisbury perhaps aptly summed up the effect of 
the visit and Bismarck's attitude when he wrote to Queen 
Victoria on April 30 : 

Lord Salisbury with his humble duty respectfully returns Your 
Majesty's memorandum, which he has read with the profoundest 
interest. It shows, what also appears from Prince Bismarck's sub- 
sequent conversation with the Duke of Rutland, that Bismarck 
was deeply gratified at Your Majesty's visit to Berlin, and reception 
of himself ; and it gives good hope that he will behave loyally to 
the Empress, if dark days should come. But it leaves in as much 
mystery as ever Prince Bismarck's extraordinary language with 
respect to Your Majesty's supposed action, and the supposed in- 
tentions of the Emperor and Empress about the marriage. How- 
ever it is evident that the Prince as Your Majesty saw him was in 
306 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

his habitual frame of mind; and that the two memorable con- 1888 
versations with Sir E. Malet must have been held under circum- 
stances of mental excitement and depression which passed rapidly 
away. This anxious incident has ended as well as it possibly could 
have ended. 



In the meantime, the health of the Emperor Frederick 
had undergone no improvement \ indeed, his malady had 
been somewhat aggravated by the maladroitness of Pro- 
fessor Bergmann, which proved to be one of the turning- 
points of the case. The facts would appear to be that in 
the early morning of April 12 the Emperor was seized 
with a severe attack of coughing, which slight adjust- 
ments of the canula relieved. At 8 A.M. Sir Morell 
Mackenzie arrived, and after consultation with Drs. 
Krause and Wegner it was decided to try the effect of a 
shorter tube. This, however, did not prove satisfactory, 
and Mackenzie then decided to try a canula of a new 
pattern, and invited Professor von Bergmann to come 
to witness the change. Bergmann arrived at five o'clock 
in the afternoon, and he, Mackenzie and Hovell went into 
the Emperor's room, where they found him writing. 
Bergmann now took out the shorter canula and inserted 
the new one, but with such an unhappy effect that the 
tube had to be withdrawn and a violent fit of coughing 
and haemorrhage followed. Again Bergmann tried, and 
again the tube had to be withdrawn, and its withdrawal 
was followed by renewed coughing and streams of blood. 
Bergmann now asked that his assistant, Dr. Bramann, 
who was waiting in his carriage outside, should be 
sent for, and on his arrival at once yielded the case 
to his assistant, who, taking a moderate -sized canula, 
passed it with the greatest ease into the trachea. But 

307 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 it was hours before the coughing and the haemorrhage 
subsided. 1 

Bergmann's roughness was never forgotten by the 
Emperor, and a pathetic proof of the agony the Em- 
peror endured owing to his maladroitness is contained 
in one of the last scripts which the Emperor wrote. On 
June 12, in reply to a remark about his medicine, or a 
question as to his condition, the Emperor scribbled in 
pencil upon a half-sheet of notepaper : " There is such 
a funny taste in the larynx." In response to another 
question the Emperor wrote : " The same Hovell just 
tried before Bergmann ill-treated me." z 

Four months later, on August 24, 1888, the Empress 
referred to this unfortunate incident in her letter to her 
mother. 

. . . The end [she wrote] was hastened and the strength to 
resist the disease was impaired by Bergmann's mismanagement of 
the after-treatment of tracheotomy, and by the injury he inflicted 
on my poor darling Fritz by so awkwardly forcing the tube back 
into its place when no force was required, only skill and patience, 
and when Sir Morell was going to do it properly himself, Berg- 
mann snatched the canula out of Sir Morell's hands and proceeded 
to do it in the most awkward and bungling way. . . . 

The result of this unfortunate episode was that Pro- 
fessor von Bergmann retired from the case on April 30. 
His formal retirement occasioned further vitriolic out- 
bursts in the German press against Sir Morell Mackenzie 

1 This account follows substantially that of Sir Morell Mac- 
kenzie in his Frederick the Noble^ pp. 143-1 53. Professor von Berg- 
mann's own account differs in only one particular that when he 
came in to see the Emperor he found him "on the point of 
suffocation ". 

2 Part of this script was published in facsimile in the British 
Medical Journal of October 13, 1888, where the Bergmann and 
Mackenzie accounts are considered side by side. 

308 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

and the Empress, who, on May 9, wrote to Queen 1888 
Victoria : 

I regret very much all this wrangling in the newspapers. 
Certainly such things have never happened before !! We have 
been singularly unfortunate in this respect! Party spirit in Ger- 
many runs very high and under Prince Bismarck's high-handed rule 
has become very bitter. This accounts for the so-called " National " 
element being mixed up with all this! 

Poor Sir Morell Mackenzie is really sur les dents with the con- 
stant anxiety about and attendance on Fritz. I think his health and 
nerves are seriously tried, and this makes him perhaps look less 
calmly on all the attacks of the press! Prof. Bergmann has behaved 
badly towards us and towards him, besides having been most unsuc- 
cessful as a surgeon on this case. But I am not going to complain 
of him, or accuse him in any way. He goes every day to William! 
Bergmann has also been made a tool of! The newspapers began 
about Fritz's case long before Sir Morell was called in. There 
was already a hot controversy so that Sir M. was brought in 
against his will. However, I hope and trust there will be no more 
of it now and that it will drop! ... It is very bad for the country 
and very hard for us. 

It was about this period that Sir Morell Mackenzie 
and Dr. Hovell, smarting under the bitter and unfair 
attacks upon them in the German press, suggested that 
a true account of the illness and treatment should be 
published. An article was then prepared for publication, 
which was submitted to the Crown Princess, whose 
pencil comment ran : 

This is all right and puts it all straight, only one must take care 
that it does not look as though you used the press to defend 
yourself, or it might degenerate into a duel between Bergmann 
and yourself in the press about your patient. When untruths are 
purposely circulated I think that we ought to have a communique 
(worded by you or as you like) sent to a newspaper through 
Count Radolinsky, as it is not thought etiquette here that the 
medical men should communicate themselves to the public any 

309 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 news which they had to give, without being authorised on each 
special occasion. Bergmann, Gerhardt and Schmidt have broken 
through this etiquette, but would not own up to it, and I do not 
like the official world here to reproach you with doing what others 
are not allowed to do. 

Whatever you think not right ought to be contradicted and 
in the way you wish, but I think it ought to go through the 
official channel! or it will be difficult to come down on the others 
in the way they deserve. I am so unhappy that our dear Dr. 
Hovell is so annoyed at this shameful attack. I can sympathise 
with him, as I suffer in the same way. I shall take every measure 
for his defence. 

Then I am afraid that the details about where Wegner lives, 
and that he was " allowed " to come twice a day and when specially 
called, might hurt his feelings, as he is Letl-Ar^t. Then it is not 
necessary to let the public into the fact of where your rooms are, 
etc. I am afraid they will say that the Germans are absent and 
are kept out of the way. Pray excuse my saying this, perhaps my 
fears are groundless, only I wish to smooth the plumage of popular 
opinion, which has been artificially ruffled. 1 

In the result the Empress's wishes were respected, 
and for the moment no step was taken that might have 
further exacerbated German opinion. 

Matters now seemed to be approaching another crisis 
between the Empress and her eldest son, " William ", 
she wrote to her mother on May 12, " fancies himself 
completely the Emperor and an absolute and autocratic 
one! Personally, we got on quite well, because I avoided 
all subjects of importance!" Six days later she again 
wrote : 

Fritz is going on nicely, thank God, only the terrible cough 
is very frequent and troublesome so disturbing and fatiguing 
for him by day, but more so by night. 

William asks Bergmann to dinner as demonstratively as pos- 

1 Extract from the Hovell papers, communicated by Mrs. Mark 
Hovell. 
310 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

sible, which considering his strange behaviour, is, to say the least, 1888 
not very good taste. 

For all those who are not staunch or true to us, in the house, 
Bergmann was a most convenient tool, and we are thankful 
to have someone else. We have no difficulties amongst the 
doctors now, nor should we ever have had with Langenbeck or 
"Wilms, whom we know so well and liked so much! Of course, 
Bergmann did his best and meant well, but he was not the right 
person, no more were Schroder and Bramann, though I do not 
blame them. 

We were most unfortunate with Prof. Gerhardt and most of 
all with that disagreeable Landgraf who misled Wegner and so 
many others I Now all these difficulties are overcome. If those 
with the adverse Party were, we should indeed have an easier 
position and easier life! 

Prince William, indeed, seemed to be doing all that 
he could to annoy his parents, though the Empress, eager 
to palliate his offences in the eyes of his grandmother, did 
not think that he was always conscious of the offence he 
gave. As the Empresss wrote to her mother on May 19 : 

What I said about William is in no way exaggerated. I do not 
tell you one third of what passes, so that you, who are at a distance, 
should not fancy that I complain. He is in a " ring ", a c6terie, 
whose main endeavour is as it were to paralyse Fritz in every 
way. William is not conscious of this ! This state of things must be 
borne until Fritz perhaps gets strong enough to put a stop to it 
himself. You have no idea of the vexations and anxieties, the 
troubles and difficulties I have to endure. I shall not torment you 
with an enumeration, perhaps not knowing the persons concerned, 
the intricacies, etc., it might even be very difficult for you to 
understand. 

Five days later, on May 24, the marriage of the 
Empress's second son, Prince Henry, to Princess Irene of 
Hesse, was celebrated at Charlottenburg. It was a happy, 
joyous day in the midst of illness and despair. A week 
later the Emperor, visibly dying, was conveyed by boat 

311 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 from Charlottenburg to the Neue Palais. It was in the 
Neue Palais that he had been born, here that he had 
spent the happiest days with the Empress and, as if to 
emphasise this, he now changed its name to "Friedrichs- 
kron". 

Ill as he was, the Emperor roused himself to deal with 
one event that annoyed him. The Minister of the Interior, 
Puttkamer, a typical Bismarckian, was one of that clique 
who held that an Emperor who could not speak should 
not rule, and it was he who had been responsible for the 
official announcement of the old Emperor's death which 
contained no allusion to the new Emperor. The Emperor 
Frederick had borne this slight in silence, but when early 
in June he was called upon to sign a Bill prolonging the 
life of the Reichstag to five years, he made it a condition 
of his signature that the Minister, who had encouraged 
corruption in the German elections, should retire. On 
June 7 it was certain that Puttkamer would go. 

It was in the midst of the " Puttkamer incident " that 
Dr. Hovell was recalled to England by the death of his 
father, and the Empress, full of sympathy for the untiring 
doctor, wrote to Queen Victoria on June 8 : 

It is most awkward our invaluable little Dr. Hovell being 
absent just now! One feels such absolute security when he sits up 
all night I He has lost his father as I told you and is in England. 
I am so afraid poor Sir Morell will knock up he has to be on 
his feet all day long and is sometimes rung for three times in ten 
minutes! 

We have felt anxious and tormented about Fritz in more than 
one way! The weather has been cold and wet and he has not got 
on as we should wish in more than one respect Sir M. will write 
^tails s till he has done a good deal of business! We have had 
great trouble and annoyance the Ministers do many things of 
which Fritz disapproves, but there is instantly a ministerial crisis 
about everything as soon as he remonstrates and one has to be 
312 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

very cautious. It is most difficult! If we could clear the place of 1888 
all spies and traitors, and surround Fritz with trustworthy men 
and true supporters, it would counterbalance the power of the 
Ministry. To get the right things done, the wrong ones prevented, 
and yet not to fall out with Bismarck is a terribly difficult 
game to play, and yet it has to be done. Fritz has after much 
difficulty and some diplomacy got rid of Puttkamer, which I 
consider a great step ! He will be able to carry all sorts of other 
things if he can break through the wall of opposition already so 
cleverly organised at San Remo, and in which William is so deeply 
involved. He would be different to us, I am sure, when these people 
and influences have gone, that use him for their purposes against 
usl He would be much more amenable and reasonable then I am 
sure. You cannot think how hard and difficult my life is I! If I 
could think we had a year before usl How much could be done, 
but that is so uncertain ! ! and then ?? I cannot think of it all, my 
heart is too near to breaking. 

Here at this place the contrast is so great with the life we used 
to lead with Fritz about everywhere, and yet it does not do to 
think of that, one must be thankful that one has him at all I What 
will it be next year?!! 

The clique are of course enraged with me, as their one idea is 
to isolate me completely, and prevent my having anything to say 
about Fritz ; to set the children against me and to make it im- 
possible for me to get on with Prince Bismarck, or William, and 
make me unpopular in the country by inventing constant lies and 
calumnies ; this they began last year already because they thought 
it opportune as the Emperor was old and Fritz was ill. I do not 
care one rap, and they have not intimidated me as they thought 
they could! I receive constant proofs of affection, sympathy, 
loyalty and confidence from other circles, so that they are rather 
baffled in their attempts to injure me ! and what if they do succeed ? 
If Fritz goes, I do not the least care what becomes of me. I do 
not want these people's love and I scorn their hatred. Fritz and 
I shall be more than avenged some day by the course events will 
take when these people come into power. . . . 

Now the people are patient because they know their Emperor 
is on their side and would fight for their just wishes and aspirations 
if his will were not kept in check by the Government and the 
Clique Cartell Partei, who take advantage of his illness to wield 

313 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 the same power as they did over the Emperor William, who was 
quite on their side and had no will of his own, except to retard 
all progress. 

It is a curious state of things! I am sad and depressed, but not 
abashed, and shall fight and struggle to the last. Not with force 
or by open opposition can one gain anything ; it is by the greatest 
caution and wariness. 

The Puttkamer incident, however, only served to 
accentuate the growing differences between Bismarck and 
the Empress. Puttkamer's resignation was gazetted on 
the nth an event which Bismarck signalised by giving 
a dinner at which Puttkamer was the guest of honour! 

All knew that the Emperor's days were numbered. 
The Empress isolated, friendless, heartbroken could 
only write to her mother on June 12 : 

I have not the heart to write I do not feel able! and yet I 
do not like to leave you without a line! Things are not going 
well! I have not much hope left, but how long our precious one 
will be left to us I do not know; it may be for some time yet, it 
cannot be for very long! Pray do not spread any alarm, it makes 
our position ten times more painful and difficult, and to be able 
to do the best for him, make him as happy and comfortable as we 
can without impertinent interference, and without all the brutal 
heartlessness I had to submit to when Fritz was so ill after the 
1 2th April is all I can crave for! I am" too miserable, too 
wretched to write more! You who went through December 1862 
will understand all! 

The next day she wrote : 

My days and nights pass I know not how ! I hardly leave Fritz's 
room, or the one next door, only going upstairs to sleep. . . . 
Sir Morell has with wonderful skill and dexterity succeeded in 
feeding him with a gutta percha tube, so that enough nourishment 
can now be taken quite well! But what it is to me to see my poor 
darling so changed! He is a perfect skeleton now and his fine 
thick hair is quite thin. His poor throat is such a painful and 
shocking sight, that I can often hardly bear to look at it, when it 

314 



THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

is done up, etc. I have to rush away to hide my tears often! It 1888 
is very difficult to keep the air pure in the room, so it is a great 
comfort that the weather permits his being on the terrace! Oh, 
the bitterness of looking round our pretty home and knowing 
that my three darling girls will have to leave it for ever, with all its 
sweet and sad recollections! It was the long slow work of years 
to put it straight not for us to end our lives in ; but these are 
minor considerations. 

How much I have to suffer in a thousand ways you do not 
know. . . . 

You ask what you can do for me!! It is too kind and dear of 
you ; now I know of nothing, but later there will be a great deal, 
and I shall often ask your advice. I feel so like a wreck, a sinking 
ship, so wounded and struck down, so sore of heart, as if I were 
bleeding from a thousand wounds. Writing makes my tears flow, 
thinking also, speaking with friends too! It is only dry hard 
business I am fit for, and there even my memory seems to fail me, 
and at times I can remember nothing but the pain! ! 

Two days later, on June 15, 1888, the Emperor 
Frederick died at eleven o'clock. That evening the dis- 
tracted Empress wrote to her mother : 

On the 1 4th December 1862 you found time and strength to 
write me a line in your overwhelming grief, and I, through agony, 
half-distracted, yet must send you a few words! I cannot tell you 
what hours those were, and what images torture my mind, what 
impressions rend my heart. Oh! they will haunt me for ever! 
The wrench is too terrible when two lives that are one are thus 
torn asunder, and I have to remain and remember how he went 
from me! Oh, the look of his dear eyes, the mournful expression 
when he closed them for ever, the coldness and the silence that 
follow when the soul has fled. Oh! my husband, my darling, my 
Fritz!! So good, so kind, so tender, brave, patient and noble, so 
cruelly tried, taken from the nation, the wife and daughters that 
did so need him. His mild just rule was not to be. Forgive me if 
I write incoherent nonsense, but it is almost too much to bear! 
Thank God his kind heart does not suffer what mine does now!!! 
I have taken my last leave, my last look. I am his widow, no 
more his wife! How am I to bear it! You did, and I will too. You 

315 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 had your nation, your great duties to live for ! I have my three sweet 
girls he loved so much that are my consolation. When they 
want me no more, my time is at your disposal whenever you care 
to have me with you! I tried to help him with might and main, 
to be useful to him, to save him all trouble, annoyance and pain. 
I think I succeeded to a certain degree! I always said I was his 
watch-dog!! Now all struggles are over! I must stumble on my 
way alone! I shall disappear as much from the world as possible 
and certainly not push myself forward anywhere! Those who 
really loved him will be kind to me for his sake! 

I must end here, I feel ill and sick, sore and broken, but not 
tired, alas! no I feel as if I should never sleep again. 



CHAPTER XII 

THE EMPEROR WILLIAM II 

WITH the death of the Emperor Frederick, the Empress 1888 
lost for the time being all hope, all desire. Life with her 
husband gone, was empty and bitter. All that she desired 
was solitude and peace, but scarcely had the Emperor's 
eyes closed in that last long sleep than there broke out a 
virulent campaign of vituperation against the Empress 
such as few have had to endure. 

The Empress was much pained to find that her son 
could scarcely bring himself to express sorrow for his 
father's death, and that he gave the impression that he held 
his memory in small esteem. The Bismarcks, father and 
son, followed the Imperial lead, and shocked the ex-Em- 
press by heaping disparagements on the dead man's name. 
Count Herbert excelled his father in offensiveness and 
spoke of the Emperor Frederick as an " incubus " and 
an " ineffectual visionary M . 1 In a conversation with the 
Prince of Wales he bluntly suggested that " an Emperor 
who could not talk was unfit to reign ", The Prince of 
Wales subsequently admitted to Prince von Hohenlohe 
(afterwards German Chancellor) that he found the 
greatest difficulty in restraining his temper at the time. 2 

Bismarck now became all-powerful again, and no 
humiliation or pain was spared die ex-Empress, either by 

1 Die Grosse Politik, vol. vi. p 326. 

2 Memoirs of Prince von Eohenlohe, vol. ii. p. 391. 

317 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 the Chancellor or his new master. As soon as it was 
known that the Emperor Frederick was dying, a cordon 
of soldiers was secretly drawn round Friedrichskron, so 
that no documents might be removed without the know- 
ledge of the new Emperor. The Master of the Household 
hastened to promulgate the order that " No one in the 
Palace, including the doctors, is to carry on any corre- 
spondence with outside. ... If any of the doctors 
attempt to leave the Palace, they will be arrested." 1 
The Empress and her suite were practically under arrest. 

Immediately after the death of the Emperor Frederick 
the scene was transformed. " It was ", as Ludwig re- 
counts, 2 " as though a monarch had been murdered, and 
his hostile successor, long prepared, had seized upon 
the newly acquired authority. * Divisions of training- 
battalions approached the Palace at the double ; round 
all the terraces was a regular system of guards with loaded 
guns. Major von Natzmer, one of the intruders of the 
night before, sat ready mounted, and the moment death 
was announced he galloped round the Palace, giving 
orders, inspecting guards. Suddenly the Hussars ap- 
peared at a trot ; divisions established themselves at all 
the gates of the Park ; the Palace was, in the military 
sense, hermetically sealed/ Anyone who wished to leave 
had to have a permit from the new master's aide-de- 
camp ; telegrams had to bear his visa." 

Vainly did the Empress Frederick appeal to the young 
Empress ; equally vainly did she request Bismarck, the 
day after the Emperor's death, to grant her an interview. 
Curt and uncompromising the reply came that Bismarck 
had no time as he was so fully occupied with his new 
master. 

1 Ludwig, Kaiser William II. p. 54. 2 Ibid. pp. 54-55* 

318 



THE EMPEROR WILLIAM II 

The following day the Empress, with her three 1888 
daughters, fled from Friedrichskron to her farm at 
Bornstedt, and on June 18 she wrote to Queen Victoria: 

I have fled here to our little farm with my three darling girls 
their Governesses, Frau v. Stockmar and three other ladies (friends 
of mine). 

They are going to bury him now! to carry him out of the 
dear house in which he was born, in which he died, where we 
have spent nearly thirty happy summers 3 and which we considered 
as our home. How pleased and proud he was to call it his own 
for the first time how many plans he had for beautifying and 
completing it! He only passed a short fortnight of sickness and 
weariness in it, but surrounded by love and affection, tended and 
watched with loving, tender and devoted care, and now he has 
left it for ever!! Oh God, why was I not allowed to go with 
him why, oh why this separation? You bore it, and I must bear 
it! It would not be right nor grateful to mourn against God's 
decree. But more cruel suffering was never laid on human soul 
than on mine at this moment! 

On this sad day, 1 once a glorious day of victory, when 
Germans and English fought side by side, my sweet precious 
little Sigismund was torn from us! We were not together, and I 
passed through those bitter hours alone, and I remember well 
that I was glad his kind and tender heart was spared all those 
agonising scenes. Now again the same bells are tolling. Are they 
really for him, the good, the noble, the brave, patient, enduring, 
pure and kind!! Oh, such men should not die! They have no 
right, I think. They are wanted in this sad world, but they also 
have much to suffer ! ! 

I have received your dear letter and have it with me here and 
read it with grateful heart! Your love and sympathy does my 
bleeding, aching, broken heart good! and consoles me! Yes, you 
say right! Your angel husband left your side, left you alone, but 
you were permitted to continue his work, you could live with his 
dear memory and spirit inspiring and guiding you for the same 
task and duties as he lived for! 

I see others take his place, knowing they cannot fill it as he did I 

1 The anniversary of Waterloo. 

319 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 Their aims and aspirations, their principles are other ones, and 
all the nation feels this with me, with the exception of those who 
loved us not and who opposed and crossed us for thirty years. 
Theirs is now the power! 

I disappear with him. My task was with him, for him, for his 
dear people. It is buried in the grave where he will be buried 
today I My voice will be silent for ever ! I feared not to lift it up 
for the good cause for him! 

I would have fought and struggled on! We had a mission, 
we felt and we knew it we were Papa's and your children! We 
were faithful to what we believed and knew to be right. We 
loved Germany we wished to see her strong and great, not only 
with the sword, but in all that was righteous, in culture, in progress 
and in liberty. We wished to see the people happy and free, 
growing and developing in all that is good. We tried hard to 
learn and study and prepare for the time in which we should be 
called to work for the nation. We had treasured up much experi- 
ence! Bitterly, hardly bought!!! that is now all wasted. It does 
seem cruel that he who had no other thought but to be just, to 
help others, to make peace, heal many a wound and dry many a 
tear, to do good, should be taken away, the hand stayed that 
worked so willingly, the eye closed that looked so kindly on all 
that approached him! 

Where shall I go, what will be my home, I know not, neither do 
I care. I am his widow and that is enough for me ! My three darling 
girls that feel all as I do, that loved him as tenderly as I did 
almost, will not leave me until they have homes of their own! 
He blessed Vicky, he sent his blessing to Sandro, he told me to 
write to Prince Alexander he wrote to Willy and spoke to our 
friends, and we shall wait in silence and in patience until we know 
whether William will do his father's bidding, respect his wishes 
and carry out his intentions! With a disposition like his it is no 
use to drive him, or hurry him! Now you will have no reason to 
be against us, or not to help us, when the right time comes! We 
are no longer people of political importance ! How my Fritz loved 
you! He kissed your photo the other day, his whole dear face 
brightened and was lit with a smile when I read bits of your 
letters to him ! Die gute Mama/ wie lielt man ihr! he always said, 
and was so pleased when you sent him messages! He did so love 
and admire England, was so proud of being popular there, and of 
320 



THE EMPEROR WILLIAM II 

being your son-in-law. He would have been a true and faithful 1888 
friend and ally! He was so anxious to bring the two countries 
as near to each other as possible. The British nation, so true and 
free and generous, will not forget him, I feel sure!! 

I must end here my grief overwhelms me and I cannot write 
properly. Goodbye, goodbye. 

This letter brings out the fact that although the 
Empress must have been cut to the quick by her son's 
behaviour, not one word of reproach or complaint 
escaped her lips. Her humiliation she bore in silence. 

One of the dying wishes of the Emperor Frederick 
was that his son should place no obstacle in the way of 
the marriage of Princess Victoria with Prince Alexander 
of Battenberg. In his will, dated April 12, the father had 
written : " In case I am ... summoned hence, I wish 
to have set in evidence as my unbiased personal opinion 
that I entirely acquiesce in the betrothal of your second 
sister with . . . Prince Alexander of Battenberg. I charge 
you as a filial duty with the accomplishment of this my 
desire, which your sister Victoria for so many years has 
cherished in her heart. ... I count upon your fulfilling 
your duty as a son by a precise attention to my wishes, 
and as a brother by not withdrawing your co-operation 
from your sister." x The son showed his respect for his 
father's dying wishes not only by breaking off the engage- 
ment, in which proceeding he had Bismarck's veto to 
appeal to, but in his letter of explanation to Prince 
Alexander he claimed that the rupture was because of 
" the profound conviction previously held by my late 
deceased grandfather and father *'. 2 

The ex-Empress returned to Friedrichskron a few 

1 Hartenau Archives, quoted by Corti, p. 336. 

2 Ludwig, p. 56. 

Y 321 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 days later. Here another humiliation was in store, for 
her son, the new Emperor, let it be known that he 
objected to his father's name being perpetuated in the 
name of the palace, and that its former title of Neue 
Palais would be restored. In such a way were all the 
wishes of the dead Emperor disregarded. 

On June 25 the Emperor William opened the first 
Imperial Parliament of his reign with great pomp and 
pageantry, and in his opening speech promised to " follow 
the same path by which my deceased grandfather won the 
confidence of his allies, the love of the German people, 
and the goodwill of foreign countries **. Many there 
were who interpreted this statement to mean that he did 
not intend to carry out any of the wishes of or liberal 
ideals of his father. In his own Memoirs he himself gives 
ground for this opinion when he states : " The tragic 
element for me in the matter of Bismarck lay in the fact 
that I became the successor of my grandfather in other 
words that, to a certain extent, I skipped a generation." 1 

On June 29 the ex-Empress wrote from the Neue 
Palais to her mother : 

I pass hours of utter lisdessness and a feeling of despair comes 
over me, then again I reproach myself with not having done 
enough for him, for having left for " Ost-Preussen *" when his 
days were numbered. Then I feel burning with indignation and 
disgust at the disgraceful language and behaviour of certain people, 
and then I feel how small that is, compared with the tide of tears 
and mourning, of true love, sympathy and admiration, which wells 
up day after day from the heart of the nation. So I am tossed to 
and fro. Many a stab and smart makes me writhe, but I try to for- 
get it as soon as possible. I close my eyes and ears to the official 
world and find it the only way not to feel the profoundest irrita- 
tion with "W. I am only too ready to make all allowances for him 

1 Ex-Emperor William's My Memoirs, 1838-1918, p. 3. 
322 



THE EMPEROR WILLIAM H 

when I think of the deplorable friends he has had, and of all the 1888 
nonsense with which his head has been so systematically stuffed 

I saw Sir Edward Malet yesterday. There is nothing settled 
yet about my plans. I cannot make any until the " Will ** has been 
carried out and I know what pied a terre I can have here, and also 
what place I can have as my own private property. Two have 
been offered which would do exceedingly well, but more enquiries 
about terms, etc., have to be made. 

I busy myself every day in Fritz's rooms, by degrees replacing 
them in the state they were in before his illness, as I shall have to 
give up this dear house. I do not like others to turn everything 
topsy-turvy. It is quite deserted and silent, but the quiet, sad as it 
is, does one good. 

The whole pageant and pomp about the Reichstags Erofmung 
I thought very silly and absurd and out of place. . . . The signifi- 
cance was that Prince Bismarck wished to show how delighted 
he was at the commencement of a new era, so much more to his 
taste than the three months of Fritz's reign. Of course a whole 
chorus echo this sentiment. Fritz of Baden, who has the vanity 
of taking the lead in all those things and is fond of prote'g6-ing 
the Empire, never sees how he plays into Prince Bismarck's hands 
on all occasions; so do most of the German sovereigns. Of all this, 
on which one could speak volumes, I will be silent now. . . . 

Queen Victoria welcomed these frank expressions of 
opinion from her daughter, and soon made it evident to 
the new Emperor that she disapproved, if not of his 
actions, at least of the actions of those of his staff who 
were encouraging him in his truculent attitude. Particu- 
larly did she dislike General von Winterfeldt, who as the 
emissary of the Emperor William now came to Windsor 
to announce the accession of the German sovereign. The 
choice of such a man as the special envoy for Winter- 
feldt had been one of those who seemed to glory in 
the early death of the Emperor Frederick filled Queen 
Victoria with dismay, and her reception of the General 
could scarcely be described as cordial. A few days later 

323 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 (July 4) Colonel Leopold Swaine, the British Military 
Attache in Berlin, wrote to Queen Victoria's Private 
Secretary, Sir Henry Ponsonby : 

. . . The young Emperor spoke to me this morning of the cold 
reception his special Envoy, General von Winterfeldt, had received 
at Windsor. After what had passed between us in the picture 
gallery and what you wrote to me in your first letter I was in hopes 
it was going to be otherwise. But, alas, it has not been so. The 
Emperor is much hurt. I gather from my interview with him after 
the parade today that he feels he is treated as a grandson and not as 
German Emperor. I don't think he will resent it this time, but I am 
very anxious even on that head, for there are many advisers here 
who, feeling as he does, are ready to recommend it. No man is 
striving harder than Malet to bring about and foster a good under- 
standing between the two countries, and it is literally cutting away 
the ground from under his feet if all he does is undermined by our 
court. 

I know you are doing all you know to throw oil on the troubled 
waters, and you will see by what I now tell you how necessary it is 
to continue to do so at every opportunity. I am quite upset by this 
unfortunate turn matters have taken and am longing to get away 
from here. 

The letter was passed on to Queen Victoria, who 
appended the laconic comment : 

The Queen intended it should be cold. She last saw him as her 
son-in-law's A.D.C. He came to her and never uttered one word 
of sorrow for his death, and rejoiced in the accession of his new 
master. 

Sir Henry Ponsonby utilised this note as the basis of 
his reply to Colonel Swaine, and the young Emperor 
quickly learnt that although he could do what he liked 
in Germany it was necessary to be careful where Queen 
Victoria was concerned. 

Queen Victoria's replies to the letters of her daughter 
brought no little measure of consolation, but the Empress 
324 



THE EMPEROR WILLIAM II 

Frederick's cup of bitterness was not yet full. It was not 1888 
sufficient that she had withdrawn from all active participa- 
tion in affairs of state : not sufficient that she desired to 
be left alone ; all the machinery of vindictive interference 
was now brought into play. Her every action during the 
Emperor Frederick's illness was now to be put under 
the magnifying glass of an inquiry. As she wrote to her 
mother on July 5 : 

A thousand loving thanks for your dear letter of the 3rd (the 
day of the Battle of Koniggratz). It is so kind of you to write so 
often! I am so grateful for it! My days pass wearily and the 
pain gets no better and many are the stabs I feel! The whole of 
the new Court, their doings, etc., grate on my feelings of course 1 
It would be wrong to wish others to be as miserable as I am! 
But to see them all full of life and hope and in the place he ought 
to fill and yet so unlike him, so unable to understand him or me, 
is intensely painful. 

Yesterday all the Ministers came to take leave of me, then all 
the Aides-de-Camp, then a deputation, the wives of the Berlin 
Artists, who mean most kindly! As I have my veil down during 
these audiences, they can luckily not see my face. 

The language of the official press, Norddeutsche Kreu%-Zeitung 
and Post continues to be shameful and disgraceful!!! but the 
generality of German papers are most nice! 

Bergmann, who did so much harm to my beloved darling, is 
continually received by William, and has now been charged by 
William to write a pamphlet about Fritz's illness. I begged 
William to let this controversy cease, as it gave me so much pain 
and was so useless, but he has taken no notice of what I said! 

Prince Bismarck has not asked to see me, to take leave, or to 
condole! 

A splendid place on the Rhine has been offered me, which I 
should like of all things, but I fear I should not have the money 
to buy it, though the Crown would give me something towards 
it, as it was Fritz's intention to give me a sum to buy myself a 
place! I do not think it ought to be out of Germany, for different 
reasons which I can explain to you! . . . 

Oh! there is so much would wring your heart if you knew 

325 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 all I went through. Yes, indeed Fritz will be terribly missed, 
there is no one to appeal to. The King of Saxony, Louis and 
Fritz of Baden are too anxious to be well with the present Govern- 
ment to be just or impartial. 

The reigning party here are anxious to wipe out all trace of 
Fritz's reign, as of an interlude without importance, and the 
spirit of which they think unjustifiable. William II. succeeds 
William I. in a perfect continuity of system, aims and tradi- 
tion! Frederick III. would have had to be submitted to, but 
he has been happily removed by Providence before he had time 
to set his mark and his stamp on the German Empire ; the sooner 
he is forgotten the better, therefore the sooner his widow dis- 
appears the better also. How little in harmony with the German 
nation this is, they well know, or they would not take so much 
trouble to attain their object 1 Of course, as these people are friends 
of William and Dona, their object is not easily perceived, and 
W. and D. would be shocked if they could view it all as it is. On 
the other hand their opinions in general are completely that of 
the party who have fought and worried us for so many years, 
and the Empress Augusta and Louise of Baden refuse to see all 
this as it is, that they are really blinded to these facts. I am glad 
to see and hear of it all as little as possible, and am very nearly 
indifferent to all this, so deep and intense is my disgust and con- 
tempt for these people and their doings, and so great my gratitude 
for all the touching sympathy and love shown for those for whom 
Fritz was so anxious to work and to live. 

On July 10 the National Zeitung published a long 
extract from the advance sheets of the German doctors' 
reports upon the Emperor Frederick's last illness. It is 
noteworthy that this publication contained nothing from 
the pen either of Professor Virchow or Sir Morell Mac- 
kenziej nor even from Dr. Krause or Dr. Hovell. Ger- 
hardt and Bergmann were the main authorities quoted, 
and in its entirety it constituted an indictment of the 
diagnosis and treatment by Sir Morell Mackenzie, and 
sought to prove that Professor von Bergmann was right 
from the first in his diagnosis of cancer. The distress 
326 



THE EMPEROR WILLIAM II 

this report occasioned the Empress may be gathered from 1888 
her letter to her mother, dated July 12 : 

The publication about my darling Fritz's illness, permitted 
and authorised by "William, makes me quite ill! It is an outrage 
to all my feelings, I think cruel and disgraceful! He has no heart, 
he cannot understand how insulting it is to have all the details 
which concern so harrowing and painful a thing as the illness of 
one's own dear husband, father of one's children, officially dragged 
before the public, in order to satisfy the spite and vanity of four 
people, Bergmann, Gerhardt, Bramann and Landgraf ! They are 
to be considered first, and I afterwards! It is quite unusual to 
publish secret state documents deposited in the Archives of the 
Haus Ministerium. 

Now I hear that a fresh coup is meditated against me, which 
is already beginning to appear in hints in the Cologne Gazette 
to make the public believe that I have tried to get Ernest of 
Cumberland replaced in Hanover. It seems so ridiculous that no 
sensible person could believe such rubbish, but it is already half 
believed because it emanates from the Wilhelmstrasse. I fancy 
they will find it rather difficult to prove such a thing! but it does 
not prevent them from trying it. Calomnie^ toujours il en rests 
toujours quelque chose this is the principle they go on! . . . 

An indication of how the Empress bore her mis- 
fortunes may be gathered from a letter written on August 
4, i888 ? by her sister, Princess Christian, to Lady Pon- 
sonby. The letter ran : 

I thought it best merely to write you a business letter and then 
to write another letter cdl about my beloved sister. Thank God I 
can really give you a good account of her on the whole. Her health 
is good when one considers the tremendous strain on it, but her 
nervous system is so shaken that she oftentimes feels wretched and 
ill when not really so. She does not like being told that she looks 
pretty well or better than one expected, so I never make any re- 
marks. This horrid damp weather and perpetual deluges of rain 
have given her bad rheumatism, from which she has been very 
suffering, but I am thankful to say that is better today. I think her 
much aged, and at times her face is pinched and drawn, otherwise 
she is unchanged. 

327 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 It is most touching to be with her, and my admiration is beyond 
words. I never saw such a courageous woman for crushed and 
broken-hearted under a load of sorrow and care such as few have 
ever had to bear, she always pulls herself together, determined to 
face whatever comes, and thinking all the time of how she can help 
others and what she can do for the good of her country. 

She has terrible bursts of grief and despair at times, but gener- 
ally she is very calm and quiet at times almost cheerful full of 
interest in everything and all that is going on. 

At times it is all I can do to keep my tears back when I look at 
her dear face with that expression of mental pain and suffering on it. 

Her future plans are all uncertain, and she has no idea at present 
where she will make her home. She has the Palace at Berlin, but 
that is all, and she may have the use of the Castle at Homburg or at 
"Wiesbaden 1 I think she would like to find something that could be 
quite her own, not a Crown property. She has heard of several places 
but has not decided on anything as yet. I shall be truly glad when 
she has, for this uncertainty is most tormenting. 

The young Emperor has returned and so far he has been very 
nice and pleasant with his mother, but of course he does do a 
thousand and one things which hurt and pain her, and which one 
would give worlds he did not do. But I really think he does them 
out of thoughtlessness and certainly not from premeditation. I have 
said and done my very utmost to try and smooth down matters 
and have implored her to take him as much into her confidence as 
she can by consulting him about trifles. This would flatter and 
please him and she would unconsciously gain a far greater in- 
fluence than she at present has any idea of. I hear from all sides that 
he does wish to be nice and kind to his mother and does think very 
much about her. Of course there are that set who are determined 
to try and prevent him getting on well with his mother and whose 
one object in life it is to keep them apart, yet I am not without hope 
that things will by degrees become far more comfortable between 
mother and sons. But Vicky has endured so much has suffered so 
cruelly has been so tormented and persecuted that she has much 
to forgive. 

I am so thankful I have been with her, and she makes me so 
happy by saying that I am a comfort and help would that I could 
do anything to lighten her burden I Ah! dear Mary, my heart is so 
sad and heavy and even here one can sometimes scarcely realise 

3*8 



THE EMPEROR WILLIAM II 

the terrible truth. One misses him at every turn dear beloved 1888 
Fritz!! 

I leave for Homburg on Monday night, but my sister has asked 
me to return to her again towards the end of September, which I 
shall only too gladly do. . . . 

Nine days later (August 13) the Empress wrote to 
Queen Victoria : 

Of course it pains me much to see how little there is of mourn- 
ing at the Marmor Palais and many other things I do not approve 
of of course I do not say a word and never shall again. I do 
not see much wisdom or prudence, and can only sigh over the 
things which would have been so differently treated and handled, 
had beloved Fritz remained only a little in the place he was so 
well prepared and called to fill. With years William might have 
gained experience and insight, and under his father have been 
trained to carry on his work with judicious care. Such was not to 
be Germany's fate! The ruling party try to accentuate in every 
way how William is his grandfather's and not his father's suc- 
cessor ; this party broke Fritz's heart by taking our sons away 
from us and trying to force them into another mould, another 
direction, which they never would have had if they had remained 
under our influence! Nobody worked harder at this than the 
Empress Augusta, or triumphs more at this moment, sad to say. 
But my beloved one's name is fast becoming a watchword with 
the people, and the whole moderate Liberal and progressive Party 
will rally round it! Kaiser Friedrich's proclamation embodies what 
they hoped and wished, and what they will work for! They will 
never get it from Prince Bismarck, nor from William. All that is 
so sad!! . . . 

The Empress's withdrawal from affairs of state was 
quickly seized upon by her enemies to mean that hence- 
forth she was to be treated as a quanme negligea&le, and 
there resulted a lack of courtesy, of consideration, that 
finally led the Empress to protest. As she wrote on 
August 22 : 

It is most strange to watch things here now. In my deep 

329 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 mourning and overwhelming sorrow, they do not even annoy or 
irritate me, but I cannot help smiling sometimes. For instance : 
the Empress Augusta sees everybody, audiences and dinners every 
day regularly. She especially receives all people who are William's 
proteges or appointed by him! There is a continual intercourse 
between the Marrnor Palais and Babelsberg. Messages carried to 
and fro they ask the Empress Augusta about everything. This 
house does not exist! William never comes, and I am taken no 
notice of! It seems to be more and more adopted that I am the 
third here at Court! You know how very indifferent rank and 
etiquette, honours, etc., are to me, but yet I am often shocked at 
the want of courtesy and considerate behaviour I meet with. I 
am quite ready to give way to the Empress Augusta on account 
of her age and her being my mother-in-law, but to have to knock 
under to my own daughter-in-law besides, makes it rather trying 
and almost ludicrous sometimes. . . . 

It is no secret and a fact that as far back as March 1887 people at 
Berlin, of that certain Conservative set, talked loudly of Fritz not 
succeeding his father, that he ought to give up to William, who was 
the only proper successor to the old Emperor, and that Fritz and I 
ought to live retired in some Schloss as private individuals!! This 
was their wish! Hence their rage at Fritz having reigned at all, be- 
cause it spoilt their programme, hence their fury that Sir M. Mac- 
kenzie would not pronounce it a cancer and incurable, in May, and 
would not recommend the operation. Hence their ceaseless en- 
deavours to obscure Fritz's memory, and to calumniate me and 
run me down in every imaginable way! Forgive my writing all this, 
but it is a page in the history of the Bismarck era, and is true ! All 
that is foreign, especially all that is English, is hated, because it is 
thought to have a Liberal tendency! They did not understand Fritz, 
he was too good, too noble and too tolerant and enlightened. They 
would have had to obey him, and had he been well and strong and 
spared to reign, he would have scattered this impertinent, daring, 
and good-for-nothing set to the winds! They know it so well 
and they are therefore so thankful to have escaped. In silence and 
solitude I carry my cross and find it very hard, very cruel and 
bitter, but I know that the wise and the peace-loving, the moderate 
and the right-minded of all nations mourn with me one who 
never can be replaced, and feel how great is the loss to every good 
cause! Amongst the Liberals I have many good and true friends. 

330 



THE EMPEROR WILLIAM II 

Also amongst men of science, letters and art, but these people i8S8 
are not noisy or powerful. 

Three other friends the Empress had who never 
deserted her, and never allied themselves to the party 
that were endeavouring in every way to belittle and 
calumniate the dead Emperor these were her three 
youngest daughters Princess Victoria, who had suffered 
from her brother William's and Bismarck's action in for- 
bidding her engagement to Prince Alexander ; Princess 
Sophie, the Duchess of Sparta ; and Princess Margaret 
(Princess Frederick Charles of Hesse). 

Bismarck now definitely let it be known that it was 
his opinion that had the German doctors been entrusted 
with the care of the late Emperor, events might have had 
a happier sequence. Sir Morell Mackenzie was abused far 
and wide, and the main indictment in the abuse was that 
he had been selected by " that Englishwoman " ? the 
Empress Frederick. On August 24 the Empress wrote 
to Queen Victoria : 

I ought to have added that when this terrible operation was 
recommended last year, I was not clearly told of all the dangers 
and of the chances of success! When I complained of this later, I 
was told " If the Crown Prince and Crown Princess are told all, 
they will not be got to consent and submit to it ". Surely that 
was not right! I should have protested violently before Sir Morell 
Mackenzie was called in had I been aware of all the facts connected 
with the operation. I fancy Wegner very reluctantly agreed to the 
idea of the operation, but he let himself be guided by Bergmann 
and Gerhardt, who had taken the responsibility, and I went entirely 
by what they said! How could I do otherwise!! Bergmann said 
to Wegner, " Es 1st nicht gefakrlick "J- and to another acquaint- 
ance of ours, a Herr Hesse, "Es ist eine Operation auf Leben and 
Tod", 2 so that this poor gentleman was terribly frightened. Now 

1 " It is not dangerous." 

2 " It is an operation that means life or death." 

331 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 of course Bismarck makes capital for himself out of these conflicting 
opinions it is decreed that it is in the interest of Germany to 
make it appear as if German science had been set at naught by 
me, a foreigner, and in consequence Fritz's precious life has been 
lost that I preferred a foreign " quack " to a German Professor 
and high dignitary of science, and thus by my obstinacy sacrificed 
Fritz's existence, whereas German science was in this case repre- 
sented by a Russian (Bergmann) and by one Prof. Gerhardt, who 
surely might make a mistake with the best intentions without 
compromising German science. Gerhardt was only too glad, then, 
that Sir Morell Mackenzie should undertake Fritz's treatment, 
as he, G. : had nothing else to recommend than this operation. 
If Fritz had submitted to it, he would only have done so from 
ignorance of the danger, and if they had lost him, he would have 
been sacrificed indeed to their recklessness! The disease took its 
course! When it really began, we do not know, and of this there 
is no proof! He was so well managed, so carefully nursed and 
tended by Sir Morel! and Dr. Hovel!, and afterwards Leyden, that he 
suffered less than others would have done. The end was hastened 
and the strength to resist the disease was impaired by Bergmann's 
mismanagement of the after-treatment of tracheotomy, and by the 
injury he inflicted on my poor darling Fritz by so awkwardly for- 
cing the tube back into its place when no force was required, only 
skill and patience, and when Sir Morell was going to do it properly 
himself, Bergmann snatched the canula out of Sir Morell's hands 
and proceeded to do it in the most awkward and bungling way! x 
He used force with another patient of his, and the man died in con- 
sequence, but I do not dream of putting down his awkwardness to 
German science! That is a cry got up to show how Bismarck and 
"William protect all that is German and how patriotic they are, and 
that a foreigner always must be wrong and an evildoer ; this I beg 
leave to say is not, and never was, the standpoint of German science, 
which is strong enough in itself, and which no one ever, attacks ! 
Prince Bismarck's dodge is always to make the Germans think they 
are going to be attacked, wronged, insulted, and their interests be- 
trayed if he were not there to protect them. There are many who 
are silly and ignorant and shortsighted enough to believe all this 
trash, and who would sacrifice their rights and liberties and their 

1 See supra, p. 308. 
332 



THE EMPEROR WILLIAM II 

prosperity if only Prince Bismarck would stay and protect them ! ! ! 1 888 
From what? Against what? I really do not think they know!! 
Herbert [Bismarck] would wish it to be thought that Fritz would 
have been tempted to sacrifice Germany's interests, for instance, 
as regards Alsace-Lorraine, or Hanover or anything in " short *', 
and that I am the serpent who always proposed such things ! ! Also 
that William was too staunch a German to be capable of such 
a thing!!! Is it not a shame to act such a comedy? Fritz often 
defended German interests in 1866-1870, when Prince B. had lost 
his courage and his nerve, but no one knows that, now that Fritz's 
lips are closed!! Fritz's and Prince B.'s ideas of German interests 
did not always agree!! They often did, but not always (as I said 
before). 

Excuse my pen running on, but I wish you to know the truth ; 
people in Germany are being purposely blinded and misled! A 
foreigner and a Liberal must necessarily be an enemy of Germany 
and a traitor! 

On the following day the Empress again wrote to 
Queen Victoria, who in her letter had written asking if 
the Empress had had any indication of the seriousness of 
the illness when she visited England with the Emperor 
Frederick (then Crown Prince) in the preceding year for 
the Jubilee celebrations. The Empress's reply ran : 

You asked me in your letter whether I was alarmed this time 
last year when I said goodbye to you ? Indeed I was not! I was 
often very anxious, but full of hope! I knew that a malignant 
disease was not proved and that what Gerhardt and Landgraf 
pretended to see, or thought they could see, was not to be seen! 
They made a guess as to the cause of the hoarseness, etc., which 
afterwards came true, but they could not be sure! The voice 
improved so much in Scotland and at Baveno before the i8th 
October that I had no reason to despond, though I had always a 
dread and fear of the eventuality. 

I have now heard of two cases which are very similar indeed. 
As for the operation, it was out of the question! Many German 
doctors know and say this ; and the special wickedness of Berg- 
mann is now to say to William, Henry, Charlotte and the public^ 

333 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 that the operation would have been a mere nothing (as he does) 
and would have saved Fritz, whereas he told others it was a 
matter of life and death I! But if he had been honest he would 
have told us then, that there was not one case he could show of 
a person who was operated for malignant disease either by laryngo- 
tomy or laryngal fissure who had ever lived longer than three or four 
months, and that they had all died from the effects of the operation 1 
The people who are now living who have had this operation per- 
formed (I have seen two) never had malignant disease, their larynxes 
were injured by another cause, one from being driven over! Our 
most celebrated surgeon for this operation here is Hahn (the one 
who operated on Mr. Montague Williams). Hahn is very timid in 
expressing an opinion and would not for the world offend Berg- 
mann, who is as vindictive as he is vain and powerful, but Hahn 
was horrified last year at this operation being performed! He 
knows the danger, the terrible state the patient is reduced to, and 
the improbability of its curing this disease, as it reappears else- 
where or comes again in the same place. Moreover Hahn thought 
Bergmann far too inexperienced and Fritz not a fit subject for 
such an operation! The terrorism which is exercised here by the 
Government makes even celebrated men like Hahn afraid to open 
their mouths. I could send you a list of the cases we know 
about!! . . . 

Bergmann is known to be exceedingly untruthful ; he does not 
care what he says, he is a thorough Russian intriguant. We should 
never have had this trouble and row if we had had old Langenbeck 
or Wilms!! (You know Langenbeck refused ever to perform this 
operation at all, as he considered it was too great a risk for the 
patient.) With Hahn or with Langenbeck we should not have had 
any difficulty. Gerhardt and Bergmann were together at Wurz- 
burg and one supports the other! ! How badly Prince Bismarck and 
Herbert Bismarck specially have behaved in this affair, I cannot 
describe! It is quite indifferent to them and yet they thought 
right to chauffer German susceptibility and vanity and chauvin- 
ism, to please William, to harm Fritz and me, and to excite dislike 
against everything English! 

They were pleased enough that our darling lived no longer, 
therefore it was not out of love and devotion ! The operation 
would have effectually put a stop to all chance of his succeeding 
his father, and we should most likely have lost hirn directly! I 

334 



THE EMPEROR WILLIAM H 

must do this justice to Prince Bismarck, that at the time he was 1888 
quite against the operation and had the perspicacity and good sense 
to see how imprudent and rash a proposal it was^ and wished all 
else tried before ; but when he saw that Fritz's days were numbered 
he turned round and thought he would get more advantage both 
with Willy and the public from taking the other side and crying 
down Sir Morell Mackenzie. And oh, it was so treacherous, mean, 
false and shameful just like those wretched people 1 and William 
is in their hands!! . . . 

There was now some indication that those who be- 
lieved in the Empress Frederick were anxious and willing 
to take up the cudgels on her behalf against the ever- 
increasing number of insinuations and innuendoes. Prud- 
ence and the fear of displeasing the all-powerful Bismarck 
or the young and arrogant monarch, however, led many 
to keep silence, but the first indication of this defensive 
attitude on the part of some of her friends gave the 
Empress no little satisfaction. 

It was about this time, too, that the rumour went 
round that the Prince of Wales, in conversation with 
Count Herbert Bismarck, had stated his opinion that 
Germany ought to return Hanover to the Cumberland 
family and treat the inhabitants of Alsace-Lorraine with 
greater kindliness. The new Emperor, in a speech at 
Frankfort-on-the-Oder, when he unveiled the monument 
to his cousin, Prince Frederick Charles, a prominent 
Prussian commander in the war of 1870, showed his irrita- 
tion at what the Prince of Wales was reputed to have 
said, by concluding his speech with these words : 

There are people who have the audacity to maintain that my 
father was willing to part with what he, in conjunction with the late 
Prince, gained on the battlefield. We, who knew him so well, can- 
not quietly tolerate, even for a single moment, such an insult to his 
memory. He assuredly cherished the same idea as we do, namely, 

335 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 that nothing should be surrendered of what had been gained in 
those great days. . . . On this point there can only be one opinion, 
namely, that we would rather sacrifice our eighteen army corps and 
our forty-two millions of inhabitants on the field of battle than sur- 
render a single stone of what my father and Prince Frederick Charles 
gained. 1 

After this " silly speech ", as the Empress described it in 
her letter to Queen Victoria of August 25, " he turned to 
General Blumenthal and said, e l hope my uncle, the Prince 
of Wales, will understand that' ", 2 " Herbert Bismarck ", 
the Empress continued, " had told William that Bertie 
and Alix wanted Hanover back for Ernest of Cumber- 
land and had criticised German administration in Alsace- 
Lorraine ; I thought it very nasty of Herbert Bismarck." 

This rumour much disturbed the Empress, and on 
August 26 she wrote to her mother : 

Many thanks for your dear telegram from Balmoral. I am sure 
you feel reminded of last year. I send you a little article which 
takes my part against the new attacks against me in the official 
press. Why do the Bismarcks wish to make me responsible for what 
Bertie and Alix said about Ernest of Cumberland ? I told you 
yesterday they wish it to appear that I instigated Bertie and Alix, 
which is most absurd, as I really hardly know what they did say. 
I am sure they meant most kindly, but as it happened it has been 
rather unfortunate that anything was said, as the Bismarcks use 
it as a weapon against me. Not only have they represented it 
so to William and caused him to make that foolish speech at 
Frankfort, but they also spread it through the Norddeutsche and 
Kolnische Zeitung to injure me, and it is then largely believed. I 
am utterly innocent of all this, and the Liberal press of course is 
not taken in, but everybody else is. It is rather silly, to talk of my 
intriguing for Danish aspirations, as Fritz and I always did what 
we could for Schleswig-Holstein aspirations and not Danish ones, 

1 The German Emperor's Speeches, translated by Louis Elkind, 
p. 17. 

2 Sir Sidney Lee, Life of King Edward VII. vol. i. pp. 647-648. 



THE EMPEROR WILLIAM H 

and were attacked and persecuted for it in those days. One is 1888 
really ashamed of such rubbish, but it all profits the Bismarcks 
and William in the eyes of a widespread class in Germany. Their 
superior patriotism is aired again on this occasion, and distrust 
sown against me, and doubt cast on Fritz's intentions. 

It is an abominable game and apparently always succeeds with 
a certain set. 

The truth of this rumour, as usual, was slow to see 
the light of day. What had happened was this. The 
Prince of Wales, who had always admired the noble aims 
and integrity of the Emperor Frederick, believed, rightly 
or wrongly, that he contemplated the restoration of 
Alsace-Lorraine to France and of Schleswig to Denmark ; 
and further understood it to be his intention to restore 
to the Duke of Cumberland, who had married the 
Princess of Wales's youngest sister, the private property 
of the royal family of Hanover, which had been seques- 
trated by Prussia after the war of 1866. It was during 
the Prince of Wales's visit to Germany for the Emperor 
Frederick's funeral that he asked Count Herbert Bismarck 
if there was any truth in the Emperor Frederick's designs 
of reparation. Count Herbert at once reported the ques- 
tion to his father the question now being transformed 
into a suggestion. Not unnaturally Count Herbert's 
version exasperated the new Emperor who, in his turn, 
understood that the Prince of Wales had suggested that 
Germany should give up all that she had won by right 
of conquest during the preceding quarter of a century. 

The moment this embroidered version came to the 
ears of the Prince of Wales he stigmatised it as " a positive 
lie". He had asked Count Herbert "whether Fritz 
would have wished to give back the provinces of Alsace 
and Lorraine if possible ", and Count Herbert had replied 
" there was no foundation for such a rumour ", and, 
2 337 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 added the Prince, "there the matter ended". OfSchleswig 
and the royal family of Hanover he had spoken quite 
vaguely, as he wrote to Prince Christian on April 3, 1889- 1 
Bismarck, however, was not disposed to let such an 
opportunity slip, and the virulent campaign against the 
Empress Frederick was now intensified. It was hinted 
that she had incited the Prince of Wales to offend German 
pride in this manner, and that when all was said and done 
she was nothing but " an Englishwoman " and cared 
nothing for the national aspirations and military glory of 
the German Empire. 2 

1 Sir S. Lee, Life of King Edward VIL vol. i. pp. 647-648. 

2 Die Grosse Politik^ vi. pp. 326-333. 



338 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE WAR DIARY OF THE EMPEROR FREDERICK 

THE Empress Frederick was now anxious that neither 1888 
she nor her late husband should be for ever under the 
stigma of the abuse and criticism which continued to be 
directed at her from Berlin. Already she had made some 
tentative steps towards this end. A year earlier the 
Emperor Frederick, on his visit to England for Queen 
Victoria's Jubilee, had taken with him three boxes of 
papers which he deposited for safe custody at Windsor 
Castle. 

Four or five months later the Emperor (then Crown 
Prince) determined to send over to England the manu- 
script Diary which he had compiled during the Franco- 
German "War of 1870-71. The Crown Prince and Prin- 
cess were then at San Remo, surrounded by servants and 
officials in the pay of Prince Bismarck, and it was realised 
that to attempt to send away documents by ordinary 
methods would simply result in their falling into the hands 
of the Chancellor. The Crown Princess, not knowing 
what to do for the best, then took Dr. Hovell into her 
confidence, and this shrewd and ingenious gentleman 
devised a means by which the spies of Bismarck and 
Prince William were eluded. For several days the three 
volumes of the Diary were placed ostensibly on the table 
of the principal drawing-room of the Villa Zirio, for all 
the world to see, read and handle if need be. Suddenly 

339 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 one night Dr. Hovell received an urgent call. Hurriedly 
he packed his things, disturbing only his valet. At the 
last moment, passing through the drawing-room, he took 
the three volumes of the Diary and started off post-haste 
to visit his mythical patient. Early next morning the hue 
and cry was raised. It was known that at the best Dr. 
Hovell could not get to England for two or three days, 
and agents were warned to cover every route to England 
which he might possibly take ; their instructions were 
that by hook or crook Dr. HovelFs luggage was to be 
lost it being understood, of course, that it would eventu- 
ally be found again minus the Diary. Every port and 
every important railway junction en route for England was 
covered, but Dr. Hovell was not traced. 

On the third day Dr. Hovell returned to San Remo, 
and his arrival was duly reported to Berlin, but the dis- 
quieting news was added that the Diary was still miss- 
ing. In point of fact it was now in England! The astute 
doctor, realising that all routes to England would be care- 
fully watched the moment his departure from San Remo 
was reported, headed straight for Berlin the very last 
place that the emissaries of Bismarck would expect him 
visit, and a route on which it was unlikely that any 
watch would be kept. He arrived there in the early hours 
of the morning^ and at once went to the British Embassy, 
where, of course, no one was about. On being told that 
he must wait an hour or two before anyone in authority 
could see him, he replied that he must see the Ambassador 
immediately, as his business admitted of no delay. He 
was so insistent that eventually Sir Edward Malet himself 
was woken up and came down in a dressing-gown to see 
him. Quickly grasping the situation, the British Ambas- 
sador saw the necessity of instant action, and despatched 
340 



WAR DIARY OF EMPEROR FREDERICK 

a special messenger to London with the Diary, while Dr. 1888 
Hovell returned to San Remo. 

Such a procedure may seem strange, that the private 
papers of the ruling house of one country should be sent 
to the royal archives of another, but as the Crown 
Princess wrote in her own Diary: "He (the Crown 
Prince) unfortunately could not consider them in safe 
custody in Berlin, and ... he regarded his papers as 
being in a better place of concealment * under Mama's 
care ' than in our house in Berlin." * There was a fear, a 
fear well-grounded, that any papers or records of the 
Emperor Frederick's might be suddenly seized and per- 
haps destroyed a proceeding which had precedent to 
warrant it, and the Empress was now anxious to add to 
these existing records at Windsor. 

The work [she wrote on September 14, 1888] of making extracts 
from my letters to you will be immense, perhaps you could find 
someone else to help also ?? as Sir Th. Martin will not do. Fritz 
kept a journal, I do not. His is very precious to me now. Some 
day the world shall have a true picture of him and all he suffered, 
but now it is much too soon. Poor darling I can hardly believe 
that he was snatched from his home, carried away by this horrid 
disease, in spite of his fine strong frame and wiry constitution, 
in the midst of all he had to do, day after day. I live through 
this last year and think how often our hopes were raised in 
the midst of our doubts because he seemed to be so well and 
strong in spite of his throat, and how grateful we were for each 
little sign that made one think his health was not being under- 
mined, until February came, and he was so mismanaged after 
the tracheotomy, which made an inroad on the store of strength 
and power of resistance, which would not have been so tried if 
only Sir Morell Mackenzie and Dr. Hovell had had him in their 
own hands. Their patient was completely snatched out of their 

1 Foreword to The War Diary of the Emperor Frederick HI. 
p. v. 

341 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 hands, and I never saw such bungling treatment or such obstinacy 
as Bergmann's, Bramann's, and Schrader's it was enough to send 
one mad. 

Sir Morel! showed an amount of patience and good temper 
which was quite extraordinary under these most trying circum- 
stances, but only for Fritz's and my sake ; as he would have gone 
away directly from another patient seeing the case taken out of 
his hands and utterly mismanaged. I implored him to stay. I had 
no confidence at all in these other gentlemen, but I tried not to 
show it so as not to upset Fritz and make him lose faith in the 
doctors about him, but it was difficult enough, as he had very 
little confidence in them and only liked Sir Morell to touch him 
with his light, gentle, dexterous fingers. It annoyed Fritz to 
have so many around him, but he bore it out of civility and 
courtesy and with angelic patience. I felt miserable because I 
could not help seeing that we were losing ground and time, by 
their not understanding the canula and not stopping the bleeding ; 
which weakened Fritz so terribly and distressed him so much. 
Sir Morell succeeded in stopping the bleeding when the others 
were gone and had left off interfering. What an agony of anxiety 
I was in, I cannot forget, and how these spiteful creatures used to 
misrepresent everything purposely to William, Henry and Char- 
lotte and intrigue with the Aides-de-Camp, and write and tele- 
graph to Bismarck and Stallberg behind our back. It was too 
bad, and I who had to smother everything down, so that Fritz 
should not be angry or irritated, and yet not keep him in ignorance 
completely of the game they were playing, so that he might be 
able to defend himself- and not fall completely into their hands! 
May I never meet any of these creatures again, I do not think I 
could look at them. Of course poor little Schrader did it all for 
the best and in the innocence of his heart; he is devotedly attached 
to us, and I have remained on the best terms with the litde man, 
also with poor old Wegner. Forgive my alluding to all this 
again. It haunts one night and day. That Fritz's mind was kept 
easy and his spirits tolerably good was due to Sir MorelPs untiring 
efforts alone, and enabled me to get along and do what I could, 
or really I should have been utterly crushed and trampled under 
foot by the daring audacious intrigues and attacks of those who 
opposed us! Thank God darling Fritz never knew what I went 
through! He used to ask with the greatest surprise, "Warum 
342 



WAR DIARY OF EMPEROR FREDERICK 

sind deine Augen so rot? 931 It is all over now, but one cannot 1888 
forget it! It was so unnecessary! There was sorrow enough 
without it all! But people were not only and always purposely 
bad ! They were very stupid and ignorant, did not and could not 
understand, were misguided and misled, which made them lose 
their heads, and behave so strangely. 

It was about this time that in accordance with a decree 
of the new Kaiser William IL, concerning the unsealing 
and inspection of the Emperor Frederick's literary re- 
mains, the widowed Empress asked Queen Victoria to 
return to her from Windsor the three boxes which had 
been deposited there in the preceding year. A thorough 
inspection of these was made by German ministers of the 
crown appointed for the purpose, and a selection of the 
papers was deposited in the domestic archives at Berlin, 
including the four successive manuscript editions of the 
Emperor Frederick's War Diary during the Franco- 
German War of 1 870-71. 2 

Years before this, in 1873, one of the most trusted 
advisers of the Emperor Frederick Professor Heinrich 
Geffcken, a German diplomatist and jurist had had 
access to the Diary. Now, in August 1888, Geffcken 
prepared for the press a series of extracts from the Diary 
in all, less than twenty pages, and in the October 
number of the Deutsche Rundschau (published late in 
September) these were given to the world. The publica- 
tion created a furore on account of the frankness of the 
diarist and the way in which he showed how Bismarck 
had wrongly arrogated to himself some of the credit for 
the creation of the German Empire which should have 
gone to the Crown Prince. 

1 Why are your eyes so red ? 

2 The War Diary of the Emperor Frederick^ Foreword, p. vi. 

343 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 A few days after the publication the Empress Frederick 
wrote to Queen Victoria : 

The Marmor Palais and Berlin are in a state of fury and excite- 
ment about the publication of Fritz's TagebucL It does not suit 
the " powers that be " at all of course. William was in a rage 
and called it " high treason " and theft of State papers! Of course 
this is nonsense! I was much surprised and also annoyed at the 
publication which is extremely injudicious and indiscreet! Of 
course it is all true, and all these portions of the public who are 
unbiased and devoted to Fritz are delighted, especially the Liberal 
press of which I send you a little sample. The part that Fritz 
played at Versailles in Jan. 1871 is of course not known by the 
public!! The German Empire is supposed to have been called 
into existence by the Emperor William and Bismarck whereas it 
was Fritz who got it done! Therefore this comes in the light of a 
revelation! I cannot imagine how it got into the Rundschau. Fritz 
had several copies lithographed and gave them to his more inti- 
mate friends (I think he gave you one also ?). One of these copies 
must have been seen by the person who wrote the article in the 
Rundschau. Everyone now thinks I have done this and to play 
Prince Bismarck a trick to revenge myself, etc. Of course, this 
is all a mischievous lie! in order to excite his party, William, etc., 
against me. 

The article was evidently put in by somebody with the best 
intentions, but it reminded me of the story of " Meyer " at 
Windsor in 1848 publishing a poem, signed "A" so that 
everyone thought dear Papa had written it! Do you remember ? 
I was advised to put a denial into the newspapers, that I had any- 
thing to do with the publication this I refused to do! I was 
also advised to write in the same sense to Prince Bismarck, which 
I also refused. But I have sent him word that I could not under- 
stand who could have published this, and that it appeared to 
me a want of tact and judgment to print what partook of a 
private and intimate character while the people named in the book 
were alive. 

Here is another pamphlet about Fritz's illness, which is good 
and fair. 

Our weather is very fine, I am sadder than ever, worn, worried 
and badgered. The sum that Fritz wanted me to have to buy 

344 



WAR DIARY OF EMPEROR FREDERICK 

myself a place, and which they had as good as promised me in 1888 
June, I am not going to have. The Haus Mmisterium say the 
Crown cannot afford it William did not even say he regretted it 
and seemed to think it quite natural! I am glad in one way, as the 
less I am under obligations to the present system the better pleased 
I am ; independence is a grand thing. 

Two days later, on September 26, 1888, she wrote : 

Alas, the evil passions are all abroad (of the Govt. and Bismarck 
party) and their violence is untold! This publication utterly in- 
furiates them. Where it was got from, what it is, I do not know! 
I possess nothing of the kind in my papers, and yet every word is 
true, and the facts are correct, die writing seems to be Fritz's 
own, they are his words and opinions, but I never saw them put 
together in this form ! 

An outburst of delight from the public has been followed by an 
outburst of fury from William, who bitterly criticised his Papa to 
me, and said how could he write such imprudent things down, etc. 
I only thought to myself how deeply is William to be pitied for 
so little understanding his Father. The vile Post, a Government 
paper, draws a simile between Fritz and the Emperor Joseph of 
Austria, saying that the latter had been a failure, and implying 
what a blessing it was for Germany that Fritz had not reigned 
longer as his principles must have led to a failure!! These are the 
sentiments and this is the language which has been held during 
30 years, but especially during the two last, in government, court, 
society, and Berlin military circles, with which our three eldest chil- 
dren have been imbued. By nature they do not understand politics, 
nor do they care about them ; they only join the general cry of 
the circles in which they move, and support William with all the 
roughness and violence of his disposition. They were so completely 
in the hands of the " clique " that Fritz found it impossible to 
let them into his complete confidence, as they did not keep things 
to themselves, and it was easy for others de lew tirer Us vers 
du ne%. We looked forward to a time when "authority" to 
which William and Henry were always ready to bow would be 
represented by him alone, and they then be more disposed to enter 
into their father's views, and it would no longer have been danger- 
ous to enlighten them! This time, alas! has never come, and the 

345 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 golden opportunity for influencing these young people has been 
snatched out of our hands. May they never have to learn by 
stern experience the truth of what their father and their mother 
would so gladly have told them. 

This publication is not apocryphal but how it has come out 
is impossible to say. G. von Normann is dead and Krug, who 
often acted as clerk and copied for Fritz, is dead tool It has been 
put in by some friend anxious to do honour to Fritz's memory, 
which it does ! but not considering that many things in this publica- 
tion are calculated to embitter my enemies and expose me to still 
more unkindness than I have come in for already. 

I send you a horrid article from the Post and two nice ones from 
a Liberal paper and I also send you the original publication in the 
Rundschau in case you have it not already! . . . 

I am indeed blessed [she added] in having so kind and dear a 
Mother to whom I can pour out my bitter sorrows and speak of 
my many trials, and am truly grateful for this mercy. 

Bismarck, after much cogitation, decided that the best 
way of countering the revelations in the Diary was by 
treating it as a forgery. " As you will have seen from 
what you have read ", he told Busch about this period, 
" we must first treat it as a forgery, a point of view from 
which a great deal may be said. Then, when it is proved 
genuine by the production of the original, it can be dealt 
with further in another way." Busch then asked the 
Chancellor if he had spoken to the Emperor on the sub- 
ject, " and he replied in the affirmative, saying * He was 
quite in a rage and wishes to have strong measures taken 
against the publication * *'. 1 From this admission it is 
evident that both the Chancellor and the new Emperor 
knew that the Diary was genuine, but the world had not 
yet learnt that to these two, and to Bismarck especially, all 
weapons were of equal value when it came to diminishing 
the prestige or fame of the dead Emperor or his surviving 

1 Busch's Bismarck, pp. 194-195. 
346 



WAR DIARY OF EMPEROR FREDERICK 

spouse. On September 27, the Empress, who was about 1888 
to leave her beloved Friedrichskron for ever, wrote to 
Queen Victoria : 

The Diary Is perfectly and completely genuine, word for word, 
and I now know where the original is. It is in the archives of the 
Haus Ministerium, and was among the papers I gave up! Of course 
it was not my intention to give it up ; I thought it was purely 
military, and had not read it. On the one hand I am now terrified 
that if William hears where it is he will have it burnt because 
Prince Bismarck has officially said it is " apocryphal ". On the 
other hand, there is no better proof for my enemies that I had 
nothing to do with the publication. But who has done it ? and 
to whom could Fritz ever have lent it ? This I do not know. . . . 
The Conservative party here think it is the grandest thing Prince 
Bismarck ever did to deny the authenticity of this diary. It is 
very possible he did it bonafde. . . . 

Leaving this (Friedrichskron) is an agony to me. I seem to 
hear my darling's voice everywhere see him, etc., and feel as if 
he were so near here, or coming soon. In another place it can 
never be the same, and yet I cannot continue to live here as I did. 
I am more miserable than I can say. 

The new Emperor was now fast acquiring a reputation 
for pageantry and military demonstrations, and his rapid 
sequence of journeys early in his reign to the courts of 
St. Petersburg, Vienna and Rome led the wits of Berlin 
to contrast the three German Emperors as " Der Greise 
Kaiser, der Weise Kaiser, und der Reise Kaiser ".* On 
September 28 the Empress wrote to Queen Victoria : 

. . . You can imagine how it pains me to think of William's 
renewed journeys to so many courts, and of all the receptions in 
Italy, a country to which we were so much attached and for which 
he does not care. Since our terrible loss not two days have been 
devoted to mourning, or to quiet, or a little care to his mother 1 

1 The " white-haired Emperor ", " the wise Emperor ", and 
" the travelling Emperor ". 

347 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 It has been one whirl of visits, receptions, dinners, journeys, 
parades, manoeuvres, shooting and entertaining. Of course it jars 
on my feelings, and I have to get accustomed to be a person who 
is not considered or remembered by the present regime, and I 
find it rather hard. 

Leaving Friedrichskron is too terrible! ... No more to be 
able to go into Fritz's sitting room, or dressing room, all just as 
they used to be, and never again to go into the room where he 
closed his eyes for ever seems so very hard. Yet many a widow 
has gone through the same. I always have a feeling that he would 
have wished me to stay in the house which was so dear to him, 
and guard the sacred spot where he died, but I know it cannot be. 
... It is perhaps unreasonable and absurd to complain like this, 
but I can hardly tear myself away from what has been our Home 
for thirty years without a bitter pang. . . . 

I hope to hear that the place near Cronberg is secured in a few 
days, and then I shall set the architect and gardener to work, and 
shall hope to show it to you some day. It will be two years before 
I can get into it, alas ! 

Meanwhile, Bismarck, after the most thorough in- 
vestigation, had learnt that Professor Geffcken had been 
responsible for the publication of the extracts from the 
Emperor Frederick's War Diary. He now decided to 
admit that the Diary was genuine, but further decided to 
prosecute the unfortunate Professor for " high treason "1 
On September 29 (the anniversary of her betrothal) the 
Empress wrote to Queen Victoria : 

This is our dear ITerlolwigstag thirty-two years ago. Oh how 
it wrings my heart! How I pine and long for him, and for his 
kind words and looks, and for a kiss I! It is all gone and over. 
Day by day I feel more lonely and unprotected. No one to lean 
on and the difficulties I have to face alone are really too terrible. 
Yesterday I felt very near putting an end to myself 1 So many 
loving thanks for your dear letter by messenger, and for Sir 
Theodore Martin's letter! You can imagine how indignant I feel 
at the tone in which the Government and Bismarck papers dare 
to speak of Fritz and of his Diary. It is not uberarbeitet y there is 

348 



WAR DIARY OF EMPEROR FREDERICK 

not a word that is not his very own and in his own dear writing. 1888 
Of course it ought not to have been published without my per- 
mission and not now. It was done with a good intention, and the 
public are delighted ! The facts, long known to me and which now 
leak out, are of course odious to the government and Bismarck 
party, and the opinions which Fritz so modestly and simply puts 
forth are of course " gall and wormwood " to them, as they are 
the very principles they have been treading and trampling down, 
and holding up to opprobrium for twenty years, calumniating and 
persecuting each individual who dared to uphold them. Now this 
party try to cast doubt, contempt and ridicule on Fritz's word 
and on his character, which makes me feel quite savage! They 
may attack and run me down as much as they like. I have nothing 
to lose, they have done all they could, but that they should venture 
to attack him when he is no longer there to defend himself, is 
mean, cowardly, ungrateful and abominable. 

I want the Tageluck back. I am so afraid William and 
Bismarck will order it to be burnt, and it is such a valuable and 
precious record of the real truth of things, that if they do that, I 
do not see how I can ever be on a footing of peace with them 
again! 

It is really too much to bear all at once. I do not mind the 
truth being known in England. 

I have not published this Diary, nor had anything to do with 
it! I fear it was Dr. Geffcken who did it, it was imprudent and 
indiscreet, but I will stand up for every word that is said. Mischke, 
Blumenthal, Stosch and many others can testify to the absolute 
historical truth of all it contains, but I certainly should not ask 
them to come forward, as they and all our friends are suspects to 
the government and might be treated & VArnim. Oh dear, it is 
all so sad and so complicated! My fate is to be trodden down and 
ill used now they have nothing to fear from me, and I shall never 
find redress anywhere. . . . 

These are tie last lines I shall ever write to you from this dear 
house of such sacred memories to me, where his cradle and coffin 
stood, where he opened his dear eyes on this world, and where he 
closed them, with a soul as pure as a child. This page of my life 
closes here, and with bitter tears the new one begins. 

The news has arrived that the purchase of the Villa Reiss is 
concluded, and now it is mine! Somehow or other I feel keen 

349 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 about it no more. Perhaps I shall begin to care again, but just 
now I am too wretched and miserable, and feel as if I could not 
rise any more from under the load of sorrow which oppresses 
me. . . . 

Three days later (October 2) she again wrote : 

No doubt it was a foolish thing to do to publish that Diary, 
and that certainly it was not an opportune moment! How poor 
old Geffcken got hold of it I do not know, but you know he is a 
good soul and meant no harm, and was devoted to Fritz! The 
way Bismarck has behaved and how the matter has been treated is 
simply disgraceful, much, much worse than the indiscretion and 
the want of tact in publishing the diary! They have now arrested 
GefFckenl It will create an immense sensation, and will make the 
Government profoundly unpopular, though not so much, I fear, 
as it deserves! These arbitrary acts of high-handed despotism seem 
to go down with the people of Berlin in the most extraordi- 
nary way! The " Party " are of course exultant and triumphant. 
" Brutality *' in every shape and form is what they admire, practise 
and preach. 

The feeling of love for Fritz is very strong in the nation, and 
it is with indignation that all right-thinking people read what B. 
has written in his report and feel that I too have again been insulted. 

The resounding scandal and embittered controversy 
caused by the publication of the extracts from the 
Diary now seemed to be approaching their zenith. 
Once again the Empress had the agony of seeing many 
whom she had counted as her friends ranged against 
her. Even some of her own family were in the oppo- 
site camp, but it must be admitted that she at times 
hardly made allowances for the difficult position in which 
they were placed. They were not in a position to know 
the inner details of the dispute, and yet, if they took her 
side, they ran the risk of affronting not only the omni- 
potent Bismarck, but also the Emperor William II. As 
the Empress wrote to Queen Victoria on October n : 
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WAR DIARY OF EMPEROR FREDERICK 

There is not a doubt that Bismarck only puffs up GefFcken's 1888 
misdeed of publishing this Diary as much as he can, in order to 
be able to strike a blow and terrorise all people who might be 
inclined to speak a word of truth and to raise their voices for 
Fritz and for me! Bismarck's fear is that anything about the 
Regency which the " Party " worked so hard to obtain might 
leak out, and it is to strike terror into the press that he makes this 
row for fear of any revelations which might be disagreeable to 
himself! All must be done to raise William on a pinnacle, because 
he is Bismarck's pedestal, which Fritz would never have stooped 
to be! So Fritz must be diminished in the eyes of the nation, and 
I must be calumniated, accused, vilified, because being Fritz's 
widow, the love the people had for him is still too warm for me ! 
I must not be left a leg to stand on. I must be made to leave 
the place or to remain an object of distrust and dislike. This is 
not very agreeable to bear! Independent people are silent, cowed 
into holding their tongues. The whole machinery of the press is 
in Bismarck's hands in Berlin alone the Government employe's 
are 33,000 people ; all of these have no other opinion than what he 
orders them to have! Caprice, tyranny and despotism are rampant. 
It is very sad indeed. When will reaction against this intolerable 
state of things come, and of what nature will it be ? 

William allows his Father and me to be insulted and attacked, 
and sanctions it! I try to be patient and resigned and remember that 
silence is most dignified. Fritz of Baden, Louise and the Empress 
Augusta are on Bismarck's side. Fritz of Baden especially has com- 
pletely changed in politics, and sails with William. It is his interest 
to do so. Louise is the only one who at least feels and understands 
my position. Charlotte has shewn neither tact nor feeling the whole 
time! She now fawns on William and has gone to Rome to see 
his arrival, etc., which, considering our mourning, has hurt my 
feelings very much! The first thing William did at Vienna was to 
receive Prof. Schrotter, who did not behave well to Fritz, as you 
know. 

I hear that already all the oflicial papers have their articles 
against Sir M. Mackenzie ready written, by order from the 
Wilhelmstrasse. 

You do not know all I have to endure. Good little Dr. Delbriick 
said yesterday if our darling Waldie were alive and 21 now he 
would call anyone out, the Chancellor himself, if disrespect were 

351 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 shown to his parents. I am sure he would, he was so staunch and 
so affectionate. Seeing my sons side with our enemies makes me 
guess what Caesar felt when Brutus stabbed him. 

The following day she wrote : 

You may be quite certain that I shall patiently endure all per- 
secution, and not stir! I must say I felt strongly inclined to pro- 
secute Prince Bismarck for libel and go to law. But it is not proper 
in such deep mourning so to come before the public and possibly 
the Staatsanwdt (Procurator-General) would have refused to pro- 
secute! Then that would have been a second insult to me! 

What am I to think and feel when I see my own son approve 
of and encourage the insults to his father's memory and his 
mother's reputation! He is either too lazy and careless, or he does 
not understand, or he intends to break the 5th Commandment, 
or he is so blunt of perception and so blind in his prejudices 
that he does not understand how disgraceful is the part he has 
played, is playing, or is made to play!! He has had a long and 
careful training and preparation in the Bismarck atmosphere, so 
that his sense of right and wrong, of gratitude, chivalry, respect, 
affection for his parents and pity for those who are so stricken 
has been thoroughly destroyed! It well-nigh broke Fritz's heart, 
when he saw how his sons were having their minds warped 
and their judgment and opinions perverted. They were young, 
easily caught and their Grandparents contributed largely to this 
result! . . . 

The Villa Liegnitz at Potsdam they have asked me to give up, 
as they want it for William's gentlemen ! I have nothing at Potsdam 
now, except my little Bornstedt, Le. a few litde rooms there. I 
can sleep at the Stadt Schloss at Potsdam if I like, but must ask 
for permission each time, which, of course, I shall avoid! Con- 
sideration for me and my feelings has been so completely set aside, 
that the less I come across the present court the better ; especially 
as I am afraid I could not promise yet always to keep my temper 
under so much provocation, and I do not want to give them the 
satisfaction of seeing how much they annoy me. 

Whilst the quarrel over the Diary was still raging, 
another publication led to a further embitterment between 
352 



WAR DIARY OF EMPEROR FREDERICK 

the Empress and those who sought every possible oppor- 1888 
tunity of vilifying her and her dead husband. 

On October 15 there was published by Sir Morell 
Mackenzie a small volume entitled The Fatal Illness of 
Frederick the Nolle, which gave his account of the 
Emperor's illness and death. Had he kept to the medical 
issues involved, the resulting controversy might not 
have been so bitter, but he went out of his way to 
prove that the German doctors were incompetent and 
that their maltreatment of the patient had hastened his 
death. A few days earlier the Empress had written : 

I send some interesting newspaper cuttings. You will see a 
letter from me to Sir Morell Mackenzie in the newspapers. He has 
not published it, nor has he anything to do with it! I am glad it 
found its way into print, as it will clear up the one point on which 
he is so much attacked here, that he purposely ignored or out 
of stupidity failed to recognise the nature of the illness. 

And now, on October 20, she wrote : 

I have felt almost distracted these last few days ! As time goes on 
it is so difficult to bear the constant longing which gnaws at one's 
heart with patience, and yet one cannot make it cease I Every sort of 
annoyance about Geffcken and about Sir MorelPs book continues to 
worry me! Some of my best friends think it is a plan of the Bismarck 
and Government party, and perhaps of himself, to try and exasperate 
me so that I may leave the country altogether in disgust and return 
no more! They are every day on the look out for some reproach 
to make, or to try and put me dans mon tort. You saw die vile 
tone and calumnies in Bismarck's immediat Bericht. Some say I 
ought not to let it pass, but ought to remonstrate with him 
and William! This would be of no earthly use. Bismarck would 
laugh and answer civilly or with a fresh pack of lies, and the official 
press would be hounded on again. William does not read letters, 
if they are unpleasant to him he tosses them on one side! He does 
not see or feel what is an insult or injury to his parents, and does 
not think it worth while to trouble about it; to get on easily 
and undisturbed with the Chancellor, to do exactly what he pleases 
2A 353 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 with as little bother as possible is all he cares about. His Mama 
is a consideration he never dreams of remembering! As Prince 
Bismarck and Herbert know this very well, they become more and 
more daring, as they know and feel that against my darling Fritz, 
against me and mine, they may say, write, print, do what they like 
with complete impunity! I have no one here to defend or advise 
me!! The two men on whom I ought to be able to rely are Min. 
Friedberg and the Haus Minister, but they are servants of the 
state, of William and Bismarck, and have neither the interest nor 
the courage to defend me where I am wronged, 

I have only my sense of right, my good conscience, and the 
affection of many sections of the public and the Liberals to rely 
on nothing else! For all that, I shall not allow myself to be 
driven away from Germany, nor shall I abandon those who are 
true to beloved Fritz's memory and principles. 

My Household are, with the sole exception of Ct. Seckendorfl, 
all in the other Camp, though they are very nice to me and Ctss. 
Briihl does all she can to show her sympathy for me now! Still 
all these important subjects I can never mention before them. 
They think everything right that is done at court and by the 
Government, and Bismarck is the first consideration! 

The Empress Frederick was fortunate enough to have 
among her suite a certain number of very clear-headed 
and high-minded people. Although they were devoted to 
her and sympathised with her in all her difficulties, their 
devotion did not blind them to the fact that the persecu- 
tions which she had undergone often made her suspect 
a slight when no slight was intended. Like true friends 
they never hesitated to tell her frankly what they thought, 
although it must often have been difficult to do so with- 
out giving the impression that they were not wholly on 
her side. 

There was Countess von Briihl, who had been many 
years with her ; Count von Seckendorff, her secretary, 
who was a great art connoisseur and who had been with 
her ever since the Franco-German War ; Countess Per- 
354 



WAR DIARY OF EMPEROR FREDERICK 

poncher Sedlnitsky who, although appointed since the 1888 
Emperor Frederick's death, was her constant companion 
and friend ; and Baron von Reischach, a man of great 
ability and reputed to be the best judge of a horse in 
Europe. At one time it was thought that he would be 
appointed German ambassador in London, but he re- 
mained with the Empress till her death and was later ap- 
pointed Master of the Horse to the Emperor William II., 
when he succeeded in bringing the royal stables in Berlin 
to a height of perfection hitherto unknown in Germany. 

The sale of Morell Mackenzie's book was now tem- 
porarily prohibited in Germany, and Mackenzie, by way 
of a riposte, secured the stoppage of the sale in England 
of the German surgeons* report of the case. 

The Emperor William II. during this period had taken 
up the attitude that both the publication of the extracts 
from the Crown Prince's Diary and Sir Morell Mac- 
kenzie's book had been instigated by the ex-Empress, 
and he appeared to be willing to accept any version of 
these affairs rather than his mother's. There was indeed 
good reason for the Empress to write to Queen Victoria 
on October 30 : 

Here things are most unsatisfactory ; something new, painful 
and disagreeable and serious turns up every day! "W. made a 
most ill-judged and mal place speech to the Ober Burgermeister 
and Town Council when they came to congratulate him on his 
return. He was very rude to them, which made a painful im- 
pression. He has not come near me yet, so I have at last sent him 
word that I wish to see him, and I will try and speak to him on 
all these different matters. They say he is full of rage and distrust 
against me, as he still insists on believing that I had allowed the 
publication of his father's diary and that people had access to it 
in England 1 One can make him believe anything, except the truth 1 ! 
The more fantastic it is, the more unlikely, the more ready he is 

355 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 to believe it. Instead of suspecting the bad people that surround 
him and take a pleasure in maligning me and exciting him against 
me, he distrusts his own Mama! It is really too hard upon me! 
It has been growing steadily for two or three years, but his Papa 
was there, and he did not dare carry it to the extreme he now does. 
G. v. K(essel), with a wickedness and audacity I could hardly have 
credited even in him, now swears on his Dienstetd that the cypher 
(which he found in his table drawer the other day) was not there 
when he last looked, and insinuates that it has been put there by 
someone in this house!! Is it not too bad? He was careless, 
forgetful and untidy^ and the whole time I thought it must be 
amongst his things and said so, and said it was sure to come to 
light ; but "William preferred the cock-and-bull story I wrote to 
you before and which K. spread about everywhere. Now he does 
not like to own it was his own fault, so he invents this in order to 
cast blame and suspicion on others! 

Some letters of our dear Roggenbach were found amongst 
GefFcken's papers ; as they were old friends they corresponded 
together! Roggenbach is now at Bonn. Since he has been there 
the Police have broken into his home at " Schopfheim " in the 
Grand Duchy of Baden with orders from here, broken open 
the drawers of his writing tables and ransacked all his papers ! ! 
These things are allowed and sanctioned by William against his 
Father's most trusted and oldest friends! !! 

The Police have by Bismarck's order a list of all people who 
were Fritz's friends or mine, or our habitues, or in any way 
connected with us, both ladies and gentlemen, even innocent 
Frau v. Stockmar, and we hear that the houses of all our friends 
are going to be searched! What for and with what intentions no 
one can tell, for besides its being disgraceful and shameful, it is 
exceedingly silly. Prince Bismarck wishes to strike terror and 
show that if anyone dares to have been friends with" the Emperor 
Frederick or with me, they must be held up to the public as dan- 
gerous, as intriguants, as enemies to Germany and the Empire!! 
and liable to be put in prison! 

Meanwhile Geffcken had been put on his trial for 
high treason, but the prosecution was soon abandoned. 
Bismarck, however, now took the opportunity to make 



WAR DIARY OF EMPEROR FREDERICK 

a report to the young Emperor in which he questioned 1888 
or denied the accuracy of a number of the statements in 
the Diary and made a venomous attack on the author, 
endeavouring in every way to belittle the prestige of the 
Emperor Frederick, and to expose and disparage his 
political liberalism. 

A great call now was made for the publication of the 
entire Diary, but the late Emperor had left strict injunc- 
tions that it should not be published until i$22. 1 On 
November 2, 1888, the Empress Frederick wrote to 
Queen Victoria : 

Prince Bismarck has instigated the publication of a pamphlet, in 
order to contradict, as it were, all that Fritz says in his diary. He 
wishes it to appear to the German nation, that you and our family 
were always the most dangerous enemy of Germany, and that 
Fritz, under my pernicious and dangerous influence, had made 
himself the tool of this policy. 

Prince Bismarck, his clique, the government and society here (with 
few exceptions) are bent on tearing down beloved Fritz's memory, 
which is idolised by the people, and on proving that he would 
have been a danger for Germany, that he would not have pro- 
tected her interests and that his Liberal ideas, his sympathisers and 
his friends, would have been the ruin of the State I I, being Fritz's 
widow and your daughter, must be held up to suspicion in the 
eyes of the public. All I do, even now in my solitary and retired 
existence, is criticised, misrepresented, etc. How far this nonsense 
is carried may be illustrated by the fact that Bernhard 2 goes about 
saying he hopes they will not let me go to England, as I only 
want to intrigue against the German Government 1 It is not sur- 
prising of him as he was always a mad chauviniste, but it is not 
kind as a son-in-law on whom I lavish much affection and kindness 
and who was much more devoted to beloved Fritz than his own 
sons were I It only shows you how the talk and the unhindered 

1 For full text see The Diary of the Emperor Frederick? translated 
by A. R. Allinson, MJL 

2 Her son-in-law, Prince Bernard of Saxe-Meiningen. 

357 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 efforts and workings of that clique blind people's judgment even 
against their own better feelings 1 There is nothing to be done 
now, but to bear it ; I share the fate of all our friends, all the best, 
most experienced and enlightened patriots who would have been 
our support and help. War to the knife is waged against them all, 
with the most unheard-of and unjustifiable means! 

It is now a struggle for Prince Bismarck's power to shake off all 
obligations and fetters which might be a gene to those belong 
Fritz's memory and my person 1 I must be run down and annihil- 
ated, as I am a relic of that fabric of hopes and plans he wishes to 
destroy once and for all! He fears that William might some day 
fall under my influence and therefore this must be prevented in 
time by making me out a danger to the state and an enemy to the 
Government. 

It is very sad, not for me alone, but for poor Germany, Fritz's 
beloved country. 

If this mad dance is carried too far, and I see nothing to stop 
them, there will be internal troubles of no small magnitude and 
no short duration. The phrase one hears again and again among 
the people is " Wir meinen es sekr gut, aber wir lassen uns nicht 
knechten ". l 

The town of Berlin is very independent and after they have 
given such touching proofs of their loyalty and made such sacrifices 
to prove it, Le. spent such sums on decorating the town for the 
Emperor W/s funeral, given me such a fine gift (N.B. At which 
William is quite furious, and says his permission ought to have 
been asked) and now offered William a beautiful and very expensive 
fountain he admired, to be put up before his windows, they will 
not brook such rudeness and such treatment as they experienced 
at William's hands the other day. 

Bismarck could not have a better tool than William. He has 
carefully had him prepared by his own son Herbert for two years. 
All other voices and views are excluded. W. reads only the papers 
prepared for him, does not understand or care for all the difficult 
and intricate questions of internal Government and is utterly 
ignorant of social, industrial, agricultural, commercial and financial 
questions, etc., only occupied with military things, with a little 
smattering of foreign affairs, and constantly being fted, travelling 

1 We mean very well, but we won't become slaves. 

358 



WAR DIARY OF EMPEROR FREDERICK 

about, having dinners, receptions, etc. Bismarck wishes his head to 1 888 
be thoroughly turned, his vanity and pride to be still greater than 
they are already, and then he will of course dash into anything they 
may propose. It is sad indeed for rne as a mother, but it is not 
surprising. The clique supported by the Emperor William and 
the Empress Augusta (who both meant no harm and thought they 
were right) have brought this about and we could not prevent it. 
Fritz saw it all and it broke his heart, and I am sure the mental 
worry and distress predisposed him to this disease, which was then 
developed by Gerhardt and Bergmann's rough treatment! Oh, 
what a tragedy it all is ! 

Of course it must be our endeavour that the relations of England 
and Germany should not suffer in spite of Prince Bismarck's 
wickedness and William's folly. You and dear Bertie and I and 
your Ministers will do all that is possible to keep everything on 
the best footing, but still I hope that this state of things is not 
ignored in England, and that all the sorrows and sufferings of your 
daughter are known, as well as their sources and reasons. 

England under Lord Salisbury has shown a patience and caution 
and courtesy towards the German Government which are truly 
admirable. The English press has been fair and moderate in its 
estimation of the present state of things ; its affection and praise 
of our beloved Darling would only be looked upon with anger 
and suspicion, by the Government. You and yours have always 
showered attentions, civilities, generosities, etc., on the German 
Court, and you know that the German unbiased public love and 
admire you and dear Papa, and you saw how well they received 
you in Spring. 

The B. party hold the following language, " We mean to show 
England that we do not want her we must break up the connec- 
tion between the English Royal Family and Germany ". 

You know that I have no blind hatred or prejudice against 
Prince Bismarck, that I have tried hard to get on with him, and 
be as civil as I could. I have always given him his due and also 
taken his part where I thought he was misunderstood or his 
notions mistrusted when they were good and honest ones. 

Fritz and I were intensely anxious not only that the Govern- 
ment and Ministers should get on smoothly and well, but that the 
two nations should understand each other, and sympathise in 
common aims and interests and that they should work hand in 

359 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 hand, assisting each other in the cause of true culture, civilisation 
and progress ! We hoped that the bonds of affection and confidence 
between the reigning families so closely allied by such sacred ties 
would grow stronger and stronger. Fritz considered himself the 
representative not only of his family tradition, but of beloved 
Papa's ideas how he loved you and how he loved Bertie more 
and more every year! 

Fritz did not need Bismarck and his diplomatic band to keep 
up good relations with other Powers I He possessed the friendship 
and confidence of the rulers, and the sympathies of their people! 
This alwayswas gall and wormwood to Bismarck, who feared a rival 
in prestige, and would have had to do Fritz's bidding if Fritz had 
been well and could have enforced his will Bismarck was quite 
nice and tractable when you were here, because he thought Fritz's 
life might be prolonged for another year, but the moment he saw 
on the i ith and i3th June that this would not be, he turned against 
us and thought to free himself from everything that could possibly 
give him the least trouble! His pupil and present Sovereign has 
neither scruples nor conscience to stick at anything, so they go on 
hitting out right and left, offending everyone all round (except 
Russia) and trying to crush and annihilate all that is in any way 
Liberal, or independent or cosmopolitan. Alas, I do not exaggerate, 
I merely relate what is history and what is no use cloaking! With 
the younger generation there is no use talking, reasoning or ex- 
postulating. We older ones of steadier heads and longer experience 
must maintain a prudent and dignified silence, until such time 
comes as we can speak with effect. I am not actuated by a feel- 
ing of revenge or bitterness. I can afford to forgive " them that 
trespass against us ", but in my deep unspeakable sorrow, I grieve 
to see so much that is so low and so bad! So much falseness and 
cruel ingratitude and such utter reckless folly and ignorance. I can 
but stand aloof and pray God to take pity on me and my three 
girls, on this country and on Us horadtes gens in general. 

So many thanks for your very dear letter of the 30th, which was 
such a comfort to me! I have had a very dear letter from dear 
Bertie! Of course I had no idea of what happened at Vienna. 1 I 

1 Both the Prince of Wales and the Emperor William II. were 
due to visit Vienna early in October 1888, and on August 15 the 
Prince wrote to his nephew that he would be glad to meet him 
360 



WAR DIARY OF EMPEROR FREDERICK 

am so ashamed and so indignant. Any want of respect or gratitude 1888 
or courtesy to Bertie from a son of mine I resent most deeply, as 
he has been the very kindest of Uncles to all my children. Here 
Bertie was blamed for having left Vienna, in order not to see 
William, and to be purposely uncivil to him! Of course I know 
this was not and could not be, but was far from guessing that it 
was the other way round! I am quite disgusted and feel it more 
than any rudeness to me, as, alas, I am used to that. 

Pray excuse this unusually long letter. If it seems opportune 
and desirable I wish you would let dear Bertie see it. ... 

William considers any public mention of his father's name or 
mine an offence to him! So have they succeeded in working him 
up and stuffing his head full of rubbish mingling flattery with 
accusations against his parents il gole tout because he is so green 
and so suspicious and prejudiced!! 

This letter from the Empress Frederick shocked and 
distressed her mother. Queen Victoria, who was now 
nearing her seventieth birthday, and the aged Queen 
endeavoured to find some means of reconciling not only 
her son, the Prince of Wales, with the new Emperor, 
but also her daughter. Her letter of the 6th brought the 
following reply four days later : 

I thought you would be shocked and distressed at all that has 
been going on here ! It is indeed terrible for me! William does not 
mean to distress and wound me as he does, I daresay, but it makes 
it none the less hard to bear. He has so little feeling himself that 
he does not know other people have, and that a want of respect, 
courtesy, consideration and fairness, coming from him is an offence 
and keenly felt! More disagreeable things than I have written have 
taken place, but I hope the Haus Minister, who is very calm and 

under the Austrian Emperor's roof. William EL, making no reply 
direct, promptly stipulated to the Emperor Francis Joseph that no 
other royal guest should dim the glory of his own stay in Vienna. 
The Prince of Wales tactfully avoided any contretemps by visiting 
the King and Queen of Roumania at Sinaia during the German 
Emperor's visit to Vienna. 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1888 quiet and most anxious for peace and harmony, and to whom I 
spoke for two hours yesterday, will be able to smooth matters down 
a little. 

It was very kind of you and of Bertie to keep from me all that 
had happened at Vienna, and I hope Sir Edward Malet knows the 
rights of it and also Bertie's feelings and will be able to give them 
expression if possible. I feel so ashamed when I think how little 
William knows how to behave, and so angry with the people who 
admire this Rucksicktslosigkeit and autocratic behaviour, this utter 
want of consideration for others I Alas, he is exceedingly dependent 
on those around him in his judgment and opinions, and I know 
them too well to hope that he can improve at present. He is 
considered the right and real representant of his Grandfather's view 
and Prince Bismarck's policy, and is much elated at this. Much 
flattery is poured upon him, so he never doubts that all he does 
and thinks is perfect, and there is no counterbalance or moderating 
influence in his wife that I can see! She quite approves the present 
system, gives it her full support and is very happy. He never for 
one moment remembers that whatever popularity he may have in 
other circles, except the official ones, is due to his being his own 
dear father's son, and that it is hoped that through being my son 
and your and Papa's grandson, the antediluvian and autocratic ideas 
of most of the Hohenzollerns will be modified by a wider, more 
humane, liberal, tolerant and moderate spirit. There are many 
who imagine that this will and must be the easel I, alas, do not ; 
as he is too obstinate and also as the people who might influence 
him in the right direction are either totally unknown to him or 
have no means of approaching him, and his whole mode of thought 
is so completely different that he would never read or understand 
or study anything which could open his eyes. He has never 
travelled and he has not one eminent man as a friend as we, I 
am happy to say, had so many. My influence has been purposely 
and ingeniously destroyed and counteracted 1 Fritz's entreaties 
were systematically put on one side. 

The words with which the [old] Emperor William told Herbert 
Bismarck that our son was to be employed at the Foreign Office 
were " Datnit seine junge Seele vor Irrthumer lewahrt wiirde "- 1 I 
have it from Herbert's own lips. The " errors " were his father's 

1 So that his young soul may be guarded against errors. 

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WAR DIARY OF EMPEROR FREDERICK 

and mother's wishes and opinions, their house and their friends! 1888 
Certainly the [old] Emperor William succeeded alas for Ger- 
many and no one helped more to destroy whatever she once 
thought right than the Empress Augusta! We wanted nothing else 
than what she gave herself endless trouble to effect with her 
own son. She wished him to have less prejudices, einen freieren^ 
weheren Blick?- than the rest of his family and did him an immense 
service thereby, but she completely turned round of late years, 
and did all she could to deprive us of any influence over William ! 
In this she was seconded by her daughter and all the Emperor 
William's Household. I often complained to you of it! They 
succeeded and all we are now suffering are die fruits of this, 
which used to worry and torment Fritz so much! 

P.S, A most curious fact [she added] is that Count Miinster, 
who left Friedrichsruh yesterday, found Prince Bismarck sehr milde 
gestimmt* determined not to have a war with France. He said about 
William, " Der Kaiser ist wie ein Ballon, wenn man ifin nicht 
fest hiehe am Stuck, ginge er, man weiss nickt wohin *'. 3 Princess 
Bismarck said, " Die Kaiserin Friedrich thut mir in der Seele weh. 
Sie wird dock %u schlecht und %u hart lekandeh".* Either she 
does not know that all the spite comes from her own people, or 
they keep it purposely from her! William said to me, " All my 
excellent Kessel says, I believe implicitly ". This shows enough 
how bad the influence is Lyncker has a bad influence also not 
because he is false, but because he is borne, violent, rough, always 
for strong measures and exceedingly schroff, whereas Kessel is false, 
dangerous and a direct mischief-maker. William has yet to learn 
that one cannot ride rough-shod over other people's feelings and 
rights and views, without causing them to rise up and protest and 
resist such treatment! He is really like a child that pulls off a fly's 
legs or wings and does not think the fly minds it, or that it matters. 
I do not think he the least understands how I have been insulted 
and injured and what I have gone through. The people around 
him incessantly are pouring gossip and calumnies into his ears and 

1 A freer, wider outlook. 2 In a gentle mood. 

3 The Emperor is like a balloon, if one did not hold him fast 
on a string, he would go no one knows whither. 

4 The Empress Frederick makes my heart ache. She is indeed 
being treated too unkindly and too roughly. 

363 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

iSSS poisoning his mind against me and all his father's friends, and he 
is so credulous that he believes everything without even asking 
whether it be true or not! It is very painful to me to have to 
speak out and make him understand that I will not submit to the 
things they have tried to make me swallow, and that I am deeply 
wounded by the utter disregard shown to all my feelings. 

Nine days later the Empress Frederick and her 
youngest daughters left Germany to visit England or 
" home " as they all regarded it. Even thirty years of 
residence in Germany had not quenched in the Empress 
that ardent love of her native land which was one of her 
most dominant characteristics. 

She was accompanied to the railway station at Berlin 
by her son, the Emperor William, who now seemed 
desirous of making amends for his previous behaviour. 
A few days after the Empress had left for England the 
British Military Attache in Berlin, Colonel Leopold 
Swaine, wrote to Sir Henry Ponsonby, Queen Victoria's 
Private Secretary : 

Although a Sunday, I had to see General von Waldersee on 
business, and at its conclusion the General volunteered the remark 
that he was very glad that the Empress Frederick had left for Eng- 
land, as he hoped that not alone the period of Her Majesty's absence 
from Berlin must help to make much that had passed here lately of 
an unpleasant nature between her and the Emperor lose in acute- 
ness, but also that the Queen's influence during the Empress's stay 
in England would have a beneficial result. On the latter he laid 
the greater weight, for it was noticed after the two days of the 
Queen's stay in Charlottenburg her influence had been of so much 
value. 

The General said that at an interview he had had last week with 
the Emperor, His Majesty had expressed himself as most regretful 
at the strained relations existing between his mother and himself. 
He had stated that he was most anxious and desirous that this should 
cease, but that there were some points on which it was impossible 
for him to give in, and he hoped Her Majesty's stay in England 

364 



WAR DIARY OF EMPEROR FREDERICK 

would put an end to these for ever and make them disappear for 1888 
good and all. 

He said that the Emperor was young and that it consequently 
pained him more than it would an older man whenever it was for- 
gotten that he was Emperor and consequently head of the family, 
and that in matters concerning the country he was frequently 
treated as a son without its being remembered that he was also 
Emperor. He instanced the Empress Augusta, who, he said, never 
left Berlin to go to Coblentz or change her domicile anywhere with- 
out previously informing the young Emperor, thereby showing 
him that she considered him as the head of the house. 

The whole thing, if I may so express myself, appears silly vanity. 
But if these little attentions are likely to have good results and 
would tend to bring about a more affectionate rapprochement they 
are worthy of a trial. 

I know the Empress Frederick does not like Count Waldersee 
and looks upon him as one of those who are priming the Emperor 
with bad advice, but I can positively state that this morning he 
spoke with great feeling and great regret, and I do not think that he 
is acting otherwise than for the best to diminish the difficulties 
existing between mother and son. He complained bitterly of the 
tittle-tattle that was going on, and on which he lays the whole blame 
of the situation. 

The Emperor saw the Empress Frederick off this morning and 
as far as outward signs went nothing could have been more 
affectionate. 



365 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE EMPEROR WILLIAM'S VISIT TO ENGLAND, 1889 

1889 THE Empress Frederick and her daughters returned to 
Germany from England at the end of February 1889, and 
her return was marked for the moment by a much better 
relationship between her and her eldest son, who now 
sought from Queen Victoria an invitation to visit England 
in state during the course of the summer. Queen Victoria, 
whilst anxious not to do anything that would give the 
impression that she took sides with the Emperor against 
his mother, was desirous that there should be no cause 
for Anglo-German differences, and therefore accorded 
her grandson the invitation he sought. 

During this period there had been much perturbation 
over the publication by Ernest IL, Duke of Saxe-Coburg 
and Gotha, the brother of the Prince Consort, of his 
frank memoirs under the title of Aus mewem Lelen und 
aus meiner Zeit. The first volume appeared in 1887, and 
the second and third followed in die succeeding two 
years. Beyond .the fact that these volumes are one long 
eulogy of Bismarck, it seems difficult to account for the 
hostility with which the Empress Frederick regarded 
them, and certainly there seems to be nothing to justify 
her complaint that they contained attacks on Queen 
Victoria. Most of the references to the Crown Prince 
show him in a favourable light, and the general impression 
given is one of affection and admiration for both him and 
366 



EMPEROR WILLIAM'S VISIT TO ENGLAND 

his wife. Certain passages, however, probably did appear 1889 
to the Empress as derogatory to her late husband, and 
to anyone accustomed, as the Empress was, to fulsome 
praise of him, even a slight criticism might have seemed 
like abuse. 

It was to these topics of the Emperor William's visit 
to England and the Duke of Saxe-Coburg's memoirs that 
the Empress alluded in her letter to Queen Victoria of 
March 15, 1889 : 

I quite understand about William's visit [she wrote] and your 
position with regard to it. I know you could not do otherwise, 
but I am sure you will also understand what my feelings must be. 
No amends have ever been made to me for all I have been made 
to suffer, no explanations offered, nor excuses, and I cannot forget 
what has passed. 

What is your advice about Uncle Ernest ? I begged Lenchen 
to write to you about it. This is the second infamous pamphlet 
written against me, with covert attacks against you, from his pen. 
This, added to the misrepresentations in his newly issued Memoirs, 
is doing a great deal of harm and especially creates in the minds 
of my three elder children a totally false and very mischievous im- 
pression. It is too wicked of him. It is generally known that I 
was very fond of him, so people think that he must know what 
is going on. 

You remember William's speech at Vienna the other day to 
poor Rudolf, 1 who in confidence told Bertie of it, which fully 
bears out what I say. Some person or other ought to be found to 
set this straight. 

I thought you might like to know what the treasonable letters 
are which Roggenbach and GefTcken wrote to each other. A friend 
of mine with great difficulty got hold of one of the printed copies 
which were circulated in this Bundesrath, but not elsewhere 
allowed and copied them hastily. These are the papers which 
were taken out of these gentlemen's boxes and tables in their 

1 The Austrian heir-apparent, who had committed suicide on 
January 30. 

367 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1 889 absence a piece of unheard-of audacity and law-breaking. Please 
keep them among my papers. 

How William and Bismarck can think without blushing of 
what they did, I do not know, but you see what one is exposed 
to now in Germany; die reiche Bourgeoisie lei uns ist feige, wer 
aberfur sein Brot arbeiten muss und mcht als Beamter abhangig ist 3 
knirsckt mit den Zdhnen fiber das Junkerregiment?- 

Some think when Bismarck is no more that all this party will 
be scattered to the winds ; for as he has no principles he cannot 
build up. The party have a leader, but no programme. They will 
follow him everywhere and are in constant admiration, but with 
no firm institutions and principles a party cannot hold together 
when the leader is gone. Still the mischief will not be over when 
he disappears, as he has thoroughly corrupted all moral sense in 
the young men who will come after him. Where is the hand and 
the mind to take up Bismarck's position and work on the lines 
of honesty and moderate rational progress for the development of 
true freedom ? I see none. That is why my beloved darling said, 
" Ich darfja nicht sterben; was wiirde aus Deutschland? " 2 

I am afraid I shall bore you, but you know I have no one to 
speak to here in the house. No one cares, knows or understands, 
and in my half-sleepless nights I lie and ponder on these sad things, 
hoping and praying that it may be well with Germany, but feeling 
that this is not the road to safety, prosperity or liberty to a whole- 
some state of things. How many good and excellent men who are 
persecuted and calumniated are suffering and sighing in silence and 
despair as I am. 

A week later. March 22, the Empress again wrote to 
Queen Victoria : 

I have just received your dear letter by messenger, for which 
many affectionate thanks. This is the old Emperor William's 
Birthday. I wrote a long letter to the Empress Augusta, and as 
this is the warmest answer I have received since June, I send it 
for you to guess what the others must have been like! 

1 Our rich middle class is cowardly, but he who must work 
for his bread and is not dependent on Government employment 
gnashes his teeth over the " Junker " Government. 

2 I must not die ; what would become of Germany ? 
368 



EMPEROR WILLIAM'S VISIT TO ENGLAND 

About Uncle Ernest, I will try and furnish you more decided 18 
proofs, so that something may be done ! He ought at least to be 
made to feel that such behaviour is unworthy of our dear father's 
brother and of a gentleman ! How cruelly ungrateful it is to you, to 
Fritz and to me ! He boasts of leading and advising William, and 
of having " opened his eyes " about me and my family !! 

The cold and indifferent attitude of her son had now 
produced in the Empress a feeling that was a mixture of 
resignation and injured pride. She agreed with Queen 
Victoria (March 28) : 

that William is not quite aware of the insults and injuries I have 
suffered at his hands, though I certainly did my best to enlighten 
him! As he does not feel for his mother he cannot be surprised 
if she who gave him so much love and care, now can only 
remember with pain that he is her son. Perhaps years may change 
this, but at present I am too sore and have suffered too much! 
He has it in his power, if he likes, to change this. I can do nothing, 
nor will I ever give way and humour him, and bear all in patience 
and silence, as I did from last June to last November (for his 
sister's sake) again. He simply accepts that and thinks he can 
continue to ride rough-shod over me ; there he makes a mistake. 
I think he simply is so wrapped up in himself, his power, his 
vanity, his plans, his position, that he does not remember my 
existence. 

I so thoroughly and utterly disapprove of all that has been 
done since that dread day, with very few exceptions, and have so 
little hope of its mending, that I strive to hear as little and think 
about it as little as I can. But one cannot cease to care for the 
country and its interests, and it is difficult to become indifferent 
to things which for thirty years and up to last June seemed of 
vital importance to Fritz and to me, and which we watched with 
such anxiety. 



For the next month there is little of historical interest 
in the letters of the Empress to Queen Victoria, Family 
and social news predominate, but there are occasional 

2B 369 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 references to Germany, which she feared (March 29) 
was becoming " a sort of military Paraguay ", and to 
" William and Dona ", who, as she wrote on April 6, 
" were quite nice and civil, and meant to be amiable, 
mals voila tout! " On April 9 she records : 

I lunched with William and Dona yesterday! No one knows 
what it cost me to go there and see our own servants and Fritz's 
Jager serving behind their chairs, etc. Their new rooms are very 
gorgeous, but it is all rather heavy and overloaded and wanting 
in real refinement, I think. 

Yesterday Prince Bismarck came. It was a bitter pill to me to 
have to receive him after all that has taken place and with all that 
is going on. He talked a great deal about Rudolf, and said that a 
scene with the Emperor (of Austria) had taken place, according 
to Reuss' s account. Perhaps Reuss was wrong. I should think 
very likely. 

Prince Reuss's account, however, was very near the 
truth of this mysterious episode. It would appear that 
the Emperor of Austria took strong exception to a certain 
liaison which his heir-apparent had formed, and the 
Archduke Rudolf resolved to break off the entangling 
shackles to which the Emperor objected. His final inter- 
view with the lady resulted in the tragedy of Mayerling, 
when both he and his mistress were found dead together. 
On April 20 the Empress wrote to Queen Victoria : 

... I have heard different things about poor Rudolf which 
may perhaps interest you. Prince Bismarck told me that the violent 
scenes and altercations between the Emperor and Rudolf had been 
the cause of Rudolf's suicide. I replied that I had heard this much 
doubted, upon which he said Reuss had written it and it was so! 
He would send me the despatch to read if I liked, but I have 
declined. I did not say what I thought, which is that for thirty 
years I have had the experience of how many lies Prince Bismarck's 
diplomatic agents (with some exceptions) have written him, and 
therefore I usually disbelieve what they write completely, unless I 
370 



EMPEROR WILLIAM'S VISIT TO ENGLAND 

know them to be honest and trustworthy men. Szechenyi, the 1889 
Ambassador at Berlin, whom we know very well, tells me that 
there had been no scenes with the Emperor, who said to Szechenyi : 
"Dies 1st der erste Kummer 9 den mein Sohn mir mackt." 1 I give you 
the news for what it is worth. General Loe heard from Austrian 
sources that the catastrophe was not premeditated for that day! 
but that the young lady had destroyed herself and, seeing that, 
Rudolf thought there was nothing else left to him, and that he had 
killed himself with a Forster Gewehr which he stood on the 
ground and then trod on the trigger. Loe considers, as I do, poor 
Rudolf's death a terrible misfortune. The Chancellor, I think, 
does not deplore it, and did not like him I . . . 

Preparations were now well under way for the state 
visit of William II. to England in the August of 1889, to 
which both Germany and Britain looked forward as an 
expression of Anglo-German amity. Germany's young 
colonial empire was now proving something more of a 
national interest than Bismarck had imagined, and it was 
to these subjects that the Empress alluded in the same 
letter of April 20, which contained the references to the 
Archduke Rudolf's death. 

When I was at Berlin I saw William three times : once he and 
Dona called, when we arrived, to return my visit; once we lunched 
with them, and on Vicky's birthday they had supper with us. No 
subject of any interest or importance was touched upon! He came 
to the railway station when I left, as he was just leaving himself 
for Wilhelmshafen! The whole time he was gay and merry, but 
quite indifferent, never asking me one question about myself^ and 
not one sympathising or kind word was uttered! 

Their going to Friedrichskron is a pang to me I cannot describe ! 
If one could think they went there with the right feelings it would 
be so different if only it had been left one year uninhabited after 
all that happened! To think of the room our beloved one closed 
his eyes in now simply used as a passage, strangers going to and 
fro and laughing, etc. All the rooms we inhabited and where I 
suffered such untold agonies, after one short year occupied by 

1 This is the first vexation my son has caused me. 

371 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 others, and the home ringing with noise, laughter and merriment 
before a year is out, pains me so bitterly! I know it is foolish, 
but I cannot get over it! . . . 

If you wish for my impression on politics, I will give it you, 
I think it totally different from the one that for instance Christian 
has! He has mixed in society and with officers and people of the 
court and Conservatives and Bismarckites! These say William is 
very popular and things are going on beautifully. This is not my 
impression. I think "William is totally blind and that the Govern- 
ment make one mistake after another. Herbert Bismarck's influence 
is supreme, his old father toadies William as he never did his 
grandfather or his father 1 The evil party have everything in their 
hands and all the power, and do absolutely what they like. 
William is quite one of them. All serious, important and well- 
informed people think the state of things sad and dangerous and 
feel that they cannot last, that the serious questions which will arise 
cannot be dealt with after the fashion of Prince Bismarck and his 
party, but that one cannot tell when, or whether, the veil will be 
rent which so completely obscures William's eyes, and when they 
will be opened to the real facts. 

Many amongst others Friedberg and Prince Radolin implore 
me not to leave Berlin, and say that my very existence there is a 
silent protest against many things and a little check on those who 
now drive William in the direction they like! I am not of this 
opinion. Wherever I can be of any use to William or to the 
country in ever so small a way, I am always ready but after the 
way in which I have been treated, to live on there and accept 
smilingly all they choose to heap on me, and be the butt for 
their calumnies and intrigues, would soon kill me, je me con- 
siuneraisl My life would be more or less an imprisonment. I 
had best keep quite quiet, lie still, and keep out of the way of the 
Berlin Court and Government, until they are forced to see the error 
of their ways! I shall always go to Berlin from time to time, but 
it would be far too soon to spend the coming winter there, quarrels 
and disagreeables would be unavoidable. 

I am sure William will make himself amiable and agreeable in 
England as he was cross during the Jubilee because his father 
and mother were there, and he could not play the first part! Now 
he thinks he will have all to himself and can afford to be gracious. 
Prince Bismarck is anxious now for England's friendship, as well 

372 



EMPEROR WILLIAM'S VISIT TO ENGLAND 

he may, as it suits him for the moment not only with his Zanzibar 1889 
and Samoa businesses, which have been so shamefully mismanaged, 
but in view of European complications which he is anxious to 
avoid, but which I fancy are beyond his control. He has made a 
fatal mistake with Austria 1 He has so weakened her that she 
becomes almost useless as an Ally! His policy of allowing the 
Balkan States to become powerless is a great blow to Austria! 
Bulgaria under Ferdinand is a reed to lean on, Servia without 
King Milan will hardly withstand Russian influence, and Pan- 
slavism is working hard to upset Charles of Roumania and seize 
upon his country! If Russia is the Master in the East and the 
Russians have finished getting ready their regiments in Poland 
(which are not quite ready) she will attack Austria to a certainty, 
in spite of the Czar's dislike to such an undertaking. 

Prince Bismarck has weakened Austria by incessantly preaching 
to her to give way to Russia in everything! Poor Rudolf knew 
this and saw it so well. 

The French wish for peace because of their Exhibition and 
because their new infantry rifles are not all ready ; they will be so 
in April next year, and ours in Germany will not. If the Russians 
attack Austria and we are forced to help the Austrians, the French 
will not be able to resist the opportunity of falling upon us ! "We 
should then have to drop Austria and face both French and the 
Russians!! How awful that would be!! Of what use the Bul- 
garians, Servians and Roumanians might have been in assisting 
Austria!! Perhaps all this need not come to pass, but we seem to 
be drifting in this direction. The clouds seem to gather, but they 
may disperse again! 

With regard to the Colonial policy, Prince Bismarck is caught 
in his own trap! He never seriously thought of having Colonies 
or fighting for them, but he encouraged the misguided and artificial 
enthusiasm about Zanzibar and Samoa, because he thought he 
could use it for electioneering purposes, and that flourishing the 
patriotic flag, and blowing the national trumpet, would make him 
popular, and enable him to get what he wanted from the Reichstag. 
Meanwhile not only the Chauvinistic party but William have taken 
it quite an. sdrieux and wish it followed up. The Chancellor does 
not dare to say that it would be wiser to drop all such under- 
takings for the present and while the state of European peace is so 
uncertain, but I have no doubt he thinks it. 

373 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 Many of the letters which the Empress Frederick had 
written to Queen Victoria were now shown by the Queen 
to Lady Ponsonby, the Empress's trusted friend. The 
following letter of thanks from Lady Ponsonby, which 
Queen Victoria kept among the Empress's letters, gives 
some idea of the way in which people unthinkingly 
widened the breach between the Empress and her son by 
repeating every unkind word that the one said of the 
other. That the Empress should have had in her service 
persons who reported to the Emperor all her references 
to him is perhaps hardly to be wondered at, but it is 
interesting to find that among the Emperor's suite also 
there were those who never lost an opportunity of telling 
the Empress all he said of her. They can have had little 
to gain by doing so, since the Empress was practically 
friendless and powerless, and the obvious inference to be 
drawn is that they wished to keep the breach open and 
to prevent any possible reconciliation between mother 
and son. 

It seems sometimes [Lady Ponsonby wrote to Queen Victoria 
on May 4, 1889] as if it were impossible to unravel all the 
troubles and complexities of the Empress's position and to dis- 
entangle what is important in the difficulties to be overcome to 
separate the grave matters too hard almost for Her Majesty to over- 
look, which in spite of the deep sorrow and tragic suffering of the 
past year have been forced upon her, from the smaller troubles 
which might possibly be smoothed over and explained away in 
time. The Empress has, in her gracious kindness, often spoken to 
me of the puzzled and nearly hopeless confusion in which the 
problem of her future position and existence seems to be involved, 
but when Her Majesty is calm and free from the rapportage so fatal 
to her peace of mind, which is so deeply to be regretted, I think the 
Empress judges the whole situation in as wise and patient a manner 
as can be expected, and it is this frame of mind which it is devoutly 
to be wished her friends should encourage. 

The Empress is far too clever to mix up the bitter feeling of 

374 



EMPEROR WILLIAM'S VISIT TO ENGLAND 

revolt, which the evils of a cruel destiny must inevitably at times 1889 
raise in the mind of one so gifted and capable of ruling, at being as 
it were set aside, with the just indignation aroused by unworthy 
treatment, and I have often heard Her Majesty recognise the fact 
that dignity and strength will be best shown in acquiescing in the 
inevitable silently. A Frenchman has said, "Les mediocres ne 
s'apercoivent pas combien il y a de mepris dans w certain silence, 
mats Us gens d 9 esprit ne sy trompent guere ". 

The inevitable : the young Emperor must be first. He must 
be very German. He is not a boy, and however right Her Majesty 
may be about the mistaken policy of the German Government, to 
oppose it, or to speak against it even to the most confidential friend 
would, in my humble opinion, as I have often expressed it to Her 
Majesty, cause her own difficulties to increase without effecting 
the smallest iota of change in the policy pursued. The regrettable 
and reprehensible manner in which the Emperor lightly treats his 
father's memory and his mother's feelings and wishes, must harm 
His Majesty more than it can do the Empress, and if it were possible 
(how difficult it will ever be, everyone who loves and sympathises 
with the dear Empress must feel from the depths of their heart) for 
Her Majesty resolutely to abstain from listening to the reports and 
repeated words which, perhaps well-meaning, but certainly officious 
friends hasten to furnish, this would be a great gain. I ventured 
once to suggest that if people existed who never lost an opportunity 
of recording every unpleasant impatient word or speech to widen 
the breach between mother and son, how likely it was that others 
could be found who acted in the opposite direction on precisely 
the same principle, and that every syllable of criticism pronounced 
by Her Majesty found its way back to the Emperor. It is true that 
as the Empress remarked there is no adverse influence in Her 
Majesty's entourage to correspond with the baneful and calumnious 
effect of the Emperor's immediate advisers, and it is at this point the 
exceptional difficulties start up. It seems almost more than human 
nature can bear to know that misrepresentation and lies are freely 
circulated and yet to take no notice. Even here, silence would, I 
venture to think, in the long run carry a more crushing refutation 
than retaliation. The Empress Frederick is a very powerful person- 
ality in Europe, and as such, quietly, silently, but very surely, as I 
believe, this strong individuality will gather round one centre all 
that is first-rate in society and in the artistic and literary world; later, 

375 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 it is probable also in the political world, but for this it is obvious 
that anything like interference, active or passive, in politics, would 
be fatal to Her Majesty's peace. 

There is one subject touched upon by the Empress on which 
I am presumptuous enough to disagree with Her Majesty. At the 
time the difficulty arose between the Emperor and the Prince of 
Wales, the matter got into the newspapers, and the outside world 
expressed pretty freely its opinion to the disadvantage of the Ger- 
man Emperor. At the same time more than one German remarked 
to me : now is the moment for the Empress Frederick to play the 
beau role of smoothing matters for her son. Her Majesty says 
nothing could be easier than for the Emperor to write a short letter 
which would set everything straight; if Her Majesty couldbe induced 
to suggest it, her son could not fail to recognise what a noble forget- 
fulness of her wrongs this desire to conciliate English opinion 
showed. , . . 

During the early months of 1889 signs had not been 
lacking that all was not coideur de rose between the new 
Emperor and Prince Bismarck. William IL, according to 
his own Memoirs, was a devoted admirer and pupil of 
the Iron Chancellor, but it was an uncongenial fact to 
him that while he was the nominal ruler of Germany, 
Prince Bismarck was the actual ruler. Their first outward 
and visible sign of difference occurred over the Chan- 
cellor's treatment of certain elements in the industrial 
situation in Germany. Early in May 1889 the Krupp 
works at Essen were compelled to close down owing to 
a strike of the Westphalian coal-miners for increased pay 
and shorter hours of labour. Bismarck at once saw to it 
that troops were available to maintain order. The result 
was a conflict between the troops and the miners on May 
7 in which three miners were killed. Within a week 
100,000 strikers were out, and on May 14 the Emperor 
received three delegates from the miners, to whom he 
made a characteristic speech. In the following days the 
376 



EMPEROR WILLIAM'S VISIT TO ENGLAND 

dislocation spread to Silesia and another 20,000 men 1889 
ceased work. 

A law dealing with the working classes was now about 
to be passed through the German Parliament a law 
promulgated by Prince Bismarck to compel the workers, 
with government assistance, to provide for old age and 
infirmity. 

On May 18 the Dowager Empress wrote to Queen 
Victoria : 

The Strike of the Coal-miners is a very serious thing! I was 
more than horrified at William's speech. "Win. told the men that 
if they had anything to do with the " Social Democrats " ich werde 
Euck alien uber den Haufen schiessen lassen^ 

It is just like him! He uses les gros mots wherever he can and 
thinks himself very grand ! I think such words in the mouth of 
a Sovereign, and so young and inexperienced a man, most brutal 
and unbecoming. But this is his style and that of the present 
regime. Never would my beloved Fritz have uttered such a 
threat, or thought of bettering matters by holding out the prospect 
of such violent measures. It sounds so childish besides! The 
Liberal members of the Reichstag have taken the greatest trouble 
to put the matters straight between the employers and men on 
strike, and I think have succeeded to a certain degree! 

The new Law, Alters und Invaliden Versorgung^ which has been 
so hastily pushed through, is not a good one, and while purposing 
to be a great boon to the workmen, is in reality not an advantage 
to them, and all men who have thoroughly studied the question 
think this Law ill considered. Of course it takes in the public, who 
do not thoroughly know the question, and sounds like an immense 
benefit to the working classes. 

The Westphalian coal strike ended on May 31 by a 
compromise between masters and men but the ensuing 
year was to see a further recrudescence of trouble in this 
area. 

1 I will have you all shot down. 

377 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 June 15, 1889, was the first anniversary of the death 
of the Emperor Frederick, and all the poignant memories 
of that period found expression in the letter of the 
Empress Frederick to her mother of June 14 : 

"What an agony it is [she wrote] to remember each little detail 
of last year I 

I cannot even now realize that such a sorrow as this has indeed 
come to darken every day and hour of my life ; and when such 
an Anniversary as the i5th June comes round no words can 
convey what one's feelings are! The cruel haunting memories 
the agonising thoughts, which being brought back so vividly, 
increase one's misery and desolation and quite overwhelm one 
with almost unbearable heartache! I remember how he kissed 
Sophie and gave her the flowers, etc., and seemed cheerful and 
ready to think of all the little things for the day. 

To me it hardly seems as if a year could have passed since those 
fatal days and yet how long and weary those twelve months have 
been what days and weeks of misery they have contained! and 
yet life has to be faced, and lived and struggled with, and duties 
remain. The battle seems almost superhuman sometimes! But 
how your love and care and sympathy and kindness have cheered 
and helped me on and given me courage ; and the faithful affec- 
tion of my few real friends the sunshine of my three dear girls' 
presence! What a blessing those three dear young lives are to me, 
and how grateful I am to have them his dear children! I am not 
ungrateful for this nor for the fact that our beloved Fritz lives 
on in the heart of the German nation at large in spite of detraction 
and calumny, and that his bright image and noble example will 
not be forgotten. This is very soothing to me and this even 
our enemies cannot destroy! "Das Andenken d&s Ger&chten Ueilt 
em Segen." 1 

When I think of the first year of the new reign ! ! mistake after 
mistake blunder after blunder! How many people persecuted, 
wronged, offended, injured and calumniated ! ! hardly one generous 
or noble action done! Alas! also inseparable from the memories 
of those days in June at Friedrichshof are those of the cordon of 
Hussars round the house the orders to the doctors against my 

1 The memory of the just is blessed. 

378 



EMPEROR WILLIAM'S VISIT TO ENGLAND 

beloved one's wishes the brutal treatment of Sir M. Mackenzie 1889 
and those who assisted me in nursing and tending our angel 1 
the sanctioned pamphlet of Bergmann and Gerhardt ; the treachery 
of Kessel and Winterfeldt, the false heartlessness of Prince Bismarck, 
the daring impertinence of his son ; the accusations and calumnies 
against me and all Fritz's friends above all the disregard of 
Fritz's last wishes, of his last letter, the ruin of two dear young 
people's hopes! the spirit in which all arrangements were made 
and all those by Fritz upset and undone!! 

These are things which I cannot forgive or forget! I can bear 
them in silence, I can refrain from trying to find redress, or from 
retaliating. Time may soften these impressions and also undo 
some of the harm which has purposely been done me in the 
eyes of Germany it may some day open the eyes of my three elder 
children to the fact that their mother is not a conspirator against 
Germany and a traitor to the country, as she has been made out 
to them to be, and as they have allowed themselves to be led to 
believe ; but it can never wipe out from my remembrance what 
has passed during the first twelve months of W.'s reign! It will be 
my duty some day to endeavour to let the truth go down to history 
and not the lies that suit Prince Bismarck and the Government 
and all those who court its favour ! 

Queen Victoria's sympathetic reply brought the Em- 
press to a more equable state of mind, and the following 
letter, written on June 21, gives some indication of the 
influence which the aged Queen exerted over her eldest 
daughter and of the wise counsel she gave her. Judging 
by the replies from the Empress, her mother invariably 
urged moderation and did everything in her power to 
bring the Empress and her son into much more amicable 
relations. 

You are right [the Empress wrote] in saying I ought not to 
say " I will never forgive '* indeed the example of Him who 
forgave his enemies and taught us to pray " Forgive us our 
trespasses " is ever before me. It is wrong to say I cannot forgive 
and I do not think I possess a revengeful or vindictive disposition, 
nor that I find it difficult to forget and forgive when I have been 

379 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 injured, or offended; but I do find it hard to forgive the wrong 
done to those I love, to my husband and my child, to our friends, 
and quietly accept what those in power may think fit to dare 
to do! When one is not un chiffon one feels very intensely the 
gross insults to which one has had to submit, and thinks that some 
sort of amends ought to be made and that it is not necessary for 
everyone to try and smooth the path for the oppressor who rides 
rough-shod over one! The good of both countries and political 
considerations go first, but the triumph of those who have behaved 
so shamefully to me is very hard to bear. They get everything 
they want, are flattered and honoured and made much of, and 
revel in the thought of the injuries and humiliations they have 
inflicted on me. However, I will try and steel myself against all 
these stabs. 

I was so anxious you should know the rights about this new 
Law passed at Berlin, as your Embassy and the Times would 
only give you the official view, that I put down in German 
my views, which are those of our friends, and asked Miss Green 
to translate it, which she has done, and I now send it, begging 
you would kindly return it when you have read it! It might also 
interest Sir H. Ponsonby. The present regime strikes violent 
blows against all that is Liberal, progressive and independent, a 
gradual, steady, moderate development of Liberty it will not 
tolerate and seeks to destroy, and favours Socialism to flatter the 
masses and have their support for despotism and Caesarism. It 
is very much the system of the Emperor Napoleon and still more 
the creed of Prince Napoleon, but it is bad and dangerous! 
William has never studied these questions does not care for 
them, or understand them, has no opinion of his own, but takes 
up that of the Bismarcks with violence and obstinacy. Anyone 
who dares to point out the danger of such a course is put down as 
a traitor and malefactor, so those who care for their own ease, 
peace and comfort are silent! I am silent because I should not be 
understood, and it would be of no use. Still I wish that you should 
know the drift of what has lately been done in our poor Germany. 
To me much of it seems blind folly and ignorance to the 
followers and admirers of B. it appears sublime wisdom. 

In the following month the Empress made many 
endeavours to arrive at a more satisfactory intercourse 



EMPEROR WILLIAM'S VISIT TO ENGLAND 

with her son William. But the memory of her humilia- 1889 
tions still rankled. On July 19 she wrote to Queen 
Victoria : 

I wish so much to say a little more about "William so that you 
may be quite aufait. I have struggled with myself very hard, and 
I think I am now in quite a calm and forgiving frame of mind, 
not anxious to rake up all grievances, etc., but I wish those who 
are so good and kind to me to know that I am particularly 
careful to do my duty vis-a-vis of William, and not to give any 
handle to those who wish to turn all against me! I only wish to 
be left in peace and quiet, not persecuted and not constantly 
calumniated. I have, as you know, no ambition to possess any 
influence, or to meddle and interfere with anything the present 
regime does ! I cannot approve of what it does, nor of the persons 
who are in power, so I am only anxious to see and hear as little 
as possible about them and keep out of their way altogether. I 
can make many an allowance for William^ as he has had his mind 
systematically poisoned against me and has been told for years 
that it was die greatest misfortune that his Papa listened to me 
and had confidence in me, and that I was an enemy of Germany 
and held dangerous opinions, etc. . . . 

Of late it has been the endeavour of all those around him to 
increase his distrust of me, to which Charlotte has, alas^ greatly 
contributed. 

Therefore no effort of mine to be on good terms with him is 
of any use. There is no confidence^ and he does not in the least 
understand me, or indeed know anything about me! 

I believe he considers himself a good son, and does not perceive 
how during this whole year he has not only cruelly neglected me, 
but also allowed injuries and insults to be heaped upon me. I 
cannot enumerate again all that has been done since June 1 5th, 1888 
you know the things which have wounded my heart, and 
offended my dignity. It would be of no use if you were to tell 
him this, or to say I had many subjects of complaint that I could 
not forget, but it might be of use to tell him that there was a 
great deal of sympathy for his parents in England, and that you 
thought it would be his duty to defend and protect his mother 
and to try and make up to her for the cruelly hard fate she had 
to suffer! This might make an impression! He is so selfish and 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 has already been so rucksichtslos to us, that it has become a perfect 
habit, and he would be very much astonished if he were told how 
badly he has behaved to us, and how shamefully his Government 
and entourage have treated me ! The treachery and want of respect 
to his Father the insolence, enmity to me! He does not see or 
understand that he had no better friends than his parents ; he never 
understood his Papa, and he thinks all women dolts or idiots. His 
wife has shown no tact and no nice or kind feeling towards me 
and above all no gratitude. This is all very sad, but it is so, and 
I shall suffer from it as long as I live, but I have made up my 
mind to this and must content myself with a footing of outward 
civility, which I shall do all to maintain 1 One thing must not be 
forgotten, that all the accusations heaped upon me have never 
been refuted, and that until William is convinced by circumstances, 
or by someone or other, that they are lies, and is anxious to atone 
in some way for the insults offered to me, I cannot feel otherwise 
than deeply hurt and offended I This I am sure you will not think 
strange and would do the same in my place, 

Treitschke received a public reward after his abuse of us, 
Puttkamer the " Black Eagle " after Fritz had dismissed him in 
displeasure, Bergmann and Gerhardt decorations and favours 
after Fritz was so dissatisfied with their services, and so I could 
name a long string of deeds, one and all directed against Fritz and 
me whether they were meant so by William or not. Of his 
words and his speeches I say nothing, for he can always follow the 
example of Bismarck and his son, and flatly deny, when it suits 
him, what he has said before 1 This belongs to their system ; when 
they have vilified and injured a person to their hearts* content 
because it seems politic at the moment they afterwards pretend to 
forget it, and are much surprised that their victim still remembers it. 
I saw Prince Radolin two days ago and he said Herbert 
Bismarck complained that you had said you did not wish Kessel 
to go to England, and how strange it was that you should know 
anything about the Emperor's Aides-de-Camp, or have a prefer- 
ence for one or the other, and again referred to General Winter- 
feldt having been so badly treated at Windsor. Prince Radolin, of 
course, gave him a very good answer! Please keep this to yourself. 

Whilst the moderating influence of Queen Victoria 
was thus making itself felt in the relations between the 
382 



EMPEROR WILLIAM'S VISIT TO ENGLAND 

Empress and her son, there was steadily growing in the : 
German court another influence that was destined to have 
the most deplorable effect upon the Emperor William II. 
For some years there had been in his immediate entourage 
a Prussian officer of chauvinist views Count von Wal- 
dersee, who, in the various campaigns since 1866, had 
proved his undoubted military ability. In 1881 he became 
Moltke's Chief of Staff, and when Moltke retired, Walder- 
see stepped into his shoes as Chief of the General Staff. 
There were now signs of a growing rivalry between 
Waldersee and the Bismarcks, and to her letter of July 19 
the Empress added the postscript : 

You may have heard about the rivalry between the Bismarcks 
and Count "Waldersee the latter has a pernicious influence on 
"William., and I am told by many also by Hintzpeter that it is 
he who has set William so against me for years! Waldersee is .a 
great friend of Bernhard and Charlotte. Neither the late Emperor 
William, nor Fritz, could bear him, and distrusted him very much 
he is not nearly as clever as Moltke, and a very shifty and 
changeable individual. She (Countess von Waldersee) is a very 
good woman, but violently Low Church, a partisan of Stacker's 
and a very great friend of Dona's. The Stocker parry are hated 
in Germany, and Prince Bismarck is sharp enough to know that 
to patronise it openly (though it consists of his own followers 
Conservatives, etc.) would not do, therefore he was secretly 
anxious to get rid of Puttkamer, who was their great supporter. 
Now, of course, he disclaims having anything to do with Putt- 
kamer's rail, and all to please William ; and it is said that I took 
advantage of Fritz's weakness to get rid of Puttkamer, 

On August i the Emperor William IL, with a German 
fleet, arrived at Spithead on his state visit. Honours were 
lavished upon him. He was created a British admiral, 
a grand naval review was arranged for his pleasure on 
August 5, and two days later he was present at manoeuvres 
at Aldershot The Emperor's reply to his being made a 

383 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 British admiral was to make his grandmother. Queen 
Victoria, a colonel of a German Dragoon regiment. On 
August 8 he left England, much pleased with his reception. 
During the stay Queen Victoria had endeavoured, 
without, however, much success, to induce her grandson 
to treat his mother in a better manner. He listened atten- 
tively to what she said, but hardly was he back In Ger- 
many than the old attitude of indifference and hostility 
reasserted itself. In her letter to Queen Victoria of August 
24 the Empress reviewed the events of the past five years. 
Mortifications are often harder to bear, and cause more 
distress, than real calamities, and try as she would, the 
Empress could not forget the many humiliations that had 
been heaped upon her by her son William. What she 
felt most of all was the fact that it was impossible to tell 
him anything. Surrounded as he was by men who did 
not dare tell him the truth or who knew little or nothing 
of what was transpiring behind the scenes, he remained 
in a fool's paradise. The one person who could have 
enlightened him was Bismarck, but Bismarck kept silence. 
The Empress's letter, dated August 24, ran as follows : 

I am also very grateful that you spoke to William and I hope 
it may have a good effect, though I am not sanguine about it. As 
you say, he hears such nonsense about and against me. But his 
mind has been thoroughly poisoned against his parents for the 
last four or five years by the circles in which he moved, the people 
with whom he associated for political purposes, and the influence 
of his Grandparents (without their meaning to do harm) was 
exercised in this same direction. I do not see how, with a credulous 
and suspicious disposition as his is without much judgment or 
discernment, or experience this is to change, as he is surrounded 
by people whose interest it is and who incessantly try to malign 
me. None have done more harm than Uncle Ernest, Herbert 
Bismarck, Charlotte and G. v. Kessel. 

You say I am not to listen to things told me against him. I 
384 



EMPEROR WILLIAM'S VISIT TO ENGLAND 

have no one about me to speak against him. My entourage are 1889 
his creatures and the system of rapportage and espionage is 
so great at Berlin that they would not venture to open their 
lips. Besides there is not one who is of my way of thinking poli- 
tically, as you know. From Fritz's friends and mine I am com- 
pletely cut off; and everyone I see always tries to make me think 
William in the right. Needless to say they do not convince me, 
and often even irritate me, as I feel the injustice of being told to 
swallow still more, and to forget the things that are too insulting 
to forget. I judge William's feelings to me, not by the things he 
says alone, which are no secret, as everyone knows them, but by 
his deeds. His conduct during the whole year 1887 and 1888 
surely I need not repeat it all. From June 1 5th to the day when 
the name of Friedrichskron was abolished, it was a string of insults. 
My wishes and his dear father's set at nought about his precious 
remains before the funeral. My feelings outraged. The soldiers 
round the house, our telegrams stopped. The treatment of Sir M. 
Mackenzie, the publication of Gerhardt's and Bergmann'svile book; 
the confiscation of the answer, the treatment of Sandro, the brutal 
way in which W. broke off his sister's marriage and treated us, 
disregarding his father's orders and Friedberg's advice. The press 
campaign against me paid by his Government. The affair about 
the Foreign Office cypher, which I am still supposed to have 
appropriated, whereas Kessel had it. The Ftes given and the 
official journeys taken during the first three months of deepest 
mourning. The affair of Fritz's Journal. The insulting Immediat 
Bericht of Bismarck, calling Fritz and me foreign spies, before 
the whole of Europe. Then the accusation that I had made away 
with state papers, which has never been contradicted. The ostenta- 
tious way in which the Emperor William is constantly alluded to 
and Fritz never, or only in a few short words. All the orders 
which Fritz had given for new organisation of the Court cassirt, 
his arrangements upset. Puttkamer decorated with the Black 
Eagle ; Bergmann and Gerhardt received to dinner and decorated. 
Treitschke, who called Fritz's reign em& traurige Episode, received 
W.'s official thanks printed in the newspapers. General Mischke 
and G. v. Roder simply dismissed. These and many other similar 
things are what I have had to submit to, and which I resent. 
They are not Klatsck but facts which will be recorded in his- 
tory. The Geffcken affair, the treatment of Roggenbach, General 
2C 385 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 v. Loe and Stosch. The table drawers broken open, the private 
correspondence of these gentlemen stolen and published. The 
Morier affair. These are a little too much to forgive, unless I am 
righted again in the eyes of the public, and unless William begs 
my pardon some day. These offences are not a year old since 
April he has not come near me and has written twice. 

For all that, I wish peace to reign and do nothing in the world 
to provoke him, or give rise to any difficulties for the present, 
and keep out of the way of a regime for which I have die pro- 
foundest contempt and the greatest disgust for the public good 
and that of our two countries. I rejoice when matters go smoothly 
between England and Germany, and think it a blessing, but all the 
while I know that the " Entente " could and would have been a 
very different one under beloved Fritz, and more to be depended 
on than the momentary caprices of Prince Bismarck and William. 

On the whole I trust die visit to England has done good in 
many ways. It will take years before I can feel less sore, and though 
I may feel no resentment later against him personally yet I can 
never excuse, or approve of what he has done, of the principles 
he governs with, or the people that surround him. 

Excuse this lengthy explanation. I promise you I will be very 
good and not feel unversoknUcJi towards him ; but some day I 
must be righted in the eyes of Germany^ and the calumnies must 
be refuted which are still believed, and which W. chooses to 
believe to a great extent. 



386 



CHAPTER XV 

THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

THE differences that had arisen between the Emperor 18 
William and Prince Bismarck in the May of 1889 became 
considerably accentuated during the course of the follow- 
ing months, and as the year came to its close it became 
evident that another " Chancellor-crisis " was sooner or 
later inevitable. In the fierce struggle for power and 
mastery that ensued, the Empress Frederick took no part, 
though its result was bound to affect her own fortunes 
and happiness. In none of her letters does she give any 
indication of taking sides with either of the contestants, 
and it was mainly of other matters that she wrote to her 
mother during this period. 

Of particular interest to her, however, was a somewhat 
peculiar matrimonial tangle. In the year 1888 Prince Bis- 
marck had appointed as German Ambassador to London 
Count Paul von Hatzfeldt-Wildenburg, who had married 
years earlier Helen, the daughter of Mr. Charles Moulton 
of New York and Paris. They had been divorced in 1886. 
In the following years, however, Count and Countess 
Hatzfeldt's daughter Helene became friendly with Prince 
Max of Hohenlohe-Oehringen, whose desire to marry 
was checked by the fact that he wished to avoid the social 
stigma which then attached to the daughter of divorced 
parents. As a result of this, Count and Countess Hatz- 
feldt desired to remarry, but there were legal and other 

387 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 difficulties in the way, not the least of which was Prince 
Bismarck's opposition. The Empress Frederick, who had 
sought the aid of Queen Victoria in this matter, now 
wrote to her mother on September 13, 1889 : 

I saw Paul Hatzfeldt the day before yesterday and he was so 
grateful to you. He speaks with the tears in his eyes. It will all 
be right in a week or two, and he will at least have a home and 
his children can talk of their home and parents without blushing. 

Prince Bismarck and his son have played a most odious part 
in all this, and now make "William believe that they never made 
difficulties, whereas the very reverse Is the truth. A promise, a 
given word, is nothing to them and never meant to be kept. I know 
that and have learnt it to my cost in twenty-five years. Lies are 
considered quite legitimate. At any rate these two gentlemen seem 
to grow fat on them, whilst those who were gentlemen enough 
to believe them have fallen victims. Fritz Holstein and Arnim are 
in their graves, Sandro has been driven to desperation, Keudell 
nearly died, Roggenbach can hardly get over it, and GefFcken is 
annihilated. Hatzfeldt would have added one to the list, but the 
fates have willed it otherwise at the last moment. If William had 
people like Ct. Hatzfeldt and Keudell and Prince Radolin about him^ 
he would not live in a world of fiction about so many things as he 
does. But the net is so inextricably knit which surrounds him that 
it is useless to attempt to put the truth before him now. One must 
have patience later perhaps it may be done. Hatzfeldt is never 
allowed to be alone with him. None of my friends have access 
to him, while our declared enemies and those who have behaved 
worst to us are about him. Under such circumstances my life and 
position are very odious and painful. But I know it cannot be 
otherwise for the present and am determined to bear it with as 
much calmness, patience and philosophy as I can. Every remon- 
strance, every appeal to truth and justice, or better feeling, would 
only make them enjoy the game of bullying me still more. I am 
powerless while they wield the weapon of authority and abuse 
their power to any extent. . . . 

A fortnight later the Empress wrote again to her 
mother (September 27, 1889) : 
388 



THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

When I saw Hatzfeldt at Homburg, he told me that his " Civil " 18 
marriage would take place as soon as he had the formal written 
consent from the Foreign Office, or from the Chancellor (I do not 
know which of the two he meant), and that he hoped to receive 
this document in ten days, or a fortnight, which time must now 
have elapsed. Some one mentioned yesterday that Ct. Hatzfeldt's 
Civil Training had taken place on the 22nd, but whether that is so, 
I do not know ; I am inclined to doubt it. 

What Sir Edward [Malet, British Ambassador at Berlin] alludes 
to I do not know, but I am certain that if there is any doubtful 
point still in the situation, it would be for the best if Sir Edward 
talked it privately over with Ct. Hatzfeldt. That a piege is always 
to be apprehended I have long known and, I believe, always said, 
but Hatzfeldt is so cautious and prudent et si Jin, so calm and 
quiet, that I imagine he will not fall into the traps they have always 
dug for him. You can have no idea of the duplicity, the utter 
want of faith and principle of Prince Bismarck, his son and their 
band of employees at this Foreign Office. 

To carry out their wishes and plans, their intentions the web 
of lies and intrigues, the number of persons used to weave them are 
quite untold. William was drawn into this three years ago, without 
having the experience or insight necessary in these things. You 
remember how in his enthusiasm for Prince Bismarck's system, etc., 
he allowed himself to be used against his own parents. He trusts 
those people, with all of whom Kessel is hand in glove, and they 
know how to manage William ; so that no one, neither Hatzfeldt 
nor anyone else, would have William's support and help against 
any villainy which might be planned. I am in exactly the same 
position! Prince Bismarck attacked me violently in his paid press 
before all Europe, calumniated our beloved Fritz's memory, and 
all his party followed the lead. William never attempted to stop 
it, never defended us, never caused the truth to be said, and their 
lies succeeded!! Roggenbach, GefFcken, Loe, Morier, Stosch, Sir 
M. Mackenzie are all proofs of the same fact that we are all 
without any protection ; anything that this party choose to do, or 
to say, they have the power of doing! They have now made the 
most they could out of William's reception in England it does 
not surprise me and I knew it beforehand! They say that no 
Sovereign was ever so feted, and that it was not true that anything 
which had been done in Germany since March 1888 had ever been 

389 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

disapproved of by public opinion in England, or by you ; this 
was all an intrigue and merely a spiteful invention of mine, 
of which their Emperor had plenty of opportunity of convincing 
himself! 

I cannot say it makes any very deep impression on me, as I 
was so prepared for it by what Prince B. and his son said to me, 
the triumphant and defiant tone they adopted I 

I am completely isolated and my life can only resolve itself 
into one thing for the present : learning to endure with fortitude. 
There is no one to defend, support, or help me, no one to ask 
redress for the wrongs I have suffered and always suffer, because 
all I do is systematically blamed and criticised. 

Kind Hatzfeldt, with whom I also talked, said so truly that there 
is nothing to be done, explanations, attempts at justification would 
be of no use as the net cast about William is too strong, he 
would not be able, or even be allowed to hear the truth, or see 
through all the cleverly wrought machinations to bring about a 
certain conviction in his mind! Circumstances may change, people 
may die, or go away, or others may by a happy accident gain his 
ear, and then a time will come when perhaps justice may be done 
to me! Perhaps I shall have ceased to care, or ceased to live. 
Hatzfeldt always hopes and prays and thinks that in time you may 
gain an influence on William, and perhaps Bertie might too, I 
think. But, alas, the feeling that Bertie has had to give way, and 
has completely got over the story of last year, makes them still 
more daring and less afraid of offending they think that they 
can do what they like and explain it away after, and that everybody 
is bound to accept their explanations! Believe me, the powers 
that be only behave well to those of whom they stand in a certain 
awe! They are insolent to all whom they are not afraid of! They 
treat Russia with the utmost consideration and management. 

As long as the two Bismarcks, Waldersee and Kessel have para- 
mount influence, it is easy to see that I can only have a terrible 
time of it! Even Stockmar and Lyncker, 1 who are honest men 
in their way, and whose part I have always taken, do not like me, 
and you know how Charlotte and Bernhard have gone against 
me, encouraged by the King of Saxony, Fritz of Baden, and even 
the Empress Augusta, though personally she is quite nice to me! 

1 Herr von Lynker, Court-Marshal to Emperor William II. 

39 



THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

This is the situation, it cannot be helped. In private families such 18 
a situation could hardly exist! Wronged and persecuted as I have 
been, I could have appealed to you and all my brothers and sisters 
to seek redress for me and to fight my battles with me! But this 
I could not do in my position. England must appear to ignore 
what are affairs of the German Court and see that the relations 
between the two great countries be not disturbed or affected by 
family affairs! Both out of courtesy and political reasons my 
brothers English Princes cannot be as outspoken with the 
Emperor of Germany as if he were someone else. . , . 

This, my defenceless position, is, of course, greatly to Prince 
Bismarck's convenience and he and his party take as much advan- 
tage of it as they can. Our friends have never been blind partisans 
of his Government, and the blows he deals at them, he deals at me. 
I am not complaining and hope I do not bore you too much with 
all this. I thought you might care to hear from me, now I am 
here, what I feel the situation to be! 

Another time I will write and tell you what I think of the 
political situation here; I never remember the outlook having 
been as dark as it is now, because it is so utterly without hope! 
The Bismarck system and policy will not disappear when he does, 
as William has identified himself with it ; but I trust that when 
Prince Bismarck dies the bad measures will be more successfully 
fought and opposed, as his prestige will no longer be there to bear 
everything down before it. For foreign policy his death would 
be no gain, as his name still keeps Germany's foes in check, and 
at his age he is so determined to prevent war, he is cautious and 
his cunning is very useful in avoiding things which give offence. 
Waldersee is imprudent and thoughtless and William utterly so, 
and so we should have rushed or blundered into no end of danger- 
ous enterprises (viz. Visit with the King of Italy to Alsace-Lorraine, 
Colonial enterprises in Africa, etc.) so thatperhaps Prince Bismarck's 
still being where he is, is in some ways a good thing though it in- 
creases tenfold the dangers in home affairs! The despotism and 
chauvinism, the retrograde movement in all things cannot fail to 
exasperate those who are not simply actuated by self-interest. 

The enormous sacrifice the nation is called upon to make for 
the Army creates a deep-seated discontent in the masses of the 
people, of which William is totally unaware, and for which 
Bismarck cares nothing. 

391 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 Her letter continued with a reference to her recent 
visit to Denmark, where she found : 

The Queen of Denmark most kind and amiable she adores 
the Russians. The King was charming as always. Frederick's 
oldest son is a bright boy and very nice. . . . Dear Alix [later 
Queen Alexandra] was the flower of the flock with her two sweet 
girls. Dear Tino [Constantme of Greece] and Georgy [later High 
Commissioner of Crete] are certainly the finest of the young men, 
and also the most intelligent. Alix of Greece was sweet and dear, 
but like wax, so terribly anaemic. She and Paul seem very happy. 
The noise they all made, and the wild romps they had were simply 
indescribable. . . . Once or twice I was obliged to laugh right 
out when they were all carrying each other. It was certainly a very 
novel and original sight, very absurd sometimes, and they seemed 
happier and to enjoy themselves more thoroughly than children of 
five or six. Tino and Georgy are as strong as two young Hercules ! 
I only wonder no arms or legs were broken. The Queen of Den- 
mark's furniture must be unusually strong one sofa, I believe, 
had to have the springs renewed at different times. . . . 

Finally, the Empress concluded her long epistle with 
a shrewd comment upon Bismarck's attitude towards 
England at this period : 

Hatzfeldt [she wrote] is eyed with much jealousy and they 
would be glad to play him some trick if they could, but he is 
always on the alert. 

To make quite plain what I said before, Prince Bismarck of 
course encourages all that now is a demonstration of civility to the 
English Government. He wishes his Germans clearly to under- 
stand that he was only inimical to an England which sympathised 
with the Emperor Frederick and with which any other rapports 
existed except those arranged, suggested and sanctioned by him! 
The England which sympathised with the present regime and his 
Government alone, is the one that he wishes to be friends with 
and will certainly be friendly to!! This was the meaning of the 
storm he raised in April 1888, and in June and July of the same 
sad year, and of the campaign against Morier. I think he has 
great confidence in Lord Salisbury and also in Lord Rosebery ; 
392 



THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

the latter he takes for a pure Bismarckite, and is perhaps not 18 
altogether mistaken I I do not envy Lord Salisbury, but certainly 
his way of" getting on " with Bismarck is admirable, and he shows 
a patience, tact and sagacity which are very great. 

Fritz always looked to Hatzfeldt as the future Minister for 
Foreign Affairs ; and certainly he is the only one I know who 
could succeed the Chancellor for that branch of affairs ; but, of 
course, I see no chance of his being selected. If ever Bismarck 
retires, his dreadful son is certain to succeed him ; it will be such 
a pity. 

A few weeks later Count and Countess Hatzfeldt were 
remarried, and in the early months of 1890 they had the 
satisfaction of seeing their daughter become Princess Max 
of Hohenlohe. 

On October 27, 1889, another wedding took place, 
that of the Princess Sophie to Prince Constantine, Duke 
of Sparta. The Empress Frederick, the sovereigns of 
Greece, Denmark and Germany, the Prince and Princess 
of Wales, and the Tsarevitch of Russia were all present 
at the ceremony in Athens, whence the Empress that day 
wrote to Queen Victoria : 

In the midst of all this bustle and hurry I must write you a 
few words to say that the wedding is over and that all has gone 
off very well. Tino and his little wife are in their new house, a 
tiny place, smaller than Osborne Cottage (a good deal), but light 
and cheerful and comfortable arranged like a little French villa, 
reminding me much of our " Villa Zirio " at San Remo. My 
darling Sophie looked so sweet and grave and calm, my little lamb, 
and I felt oh, so miserable during the Service, thinking of my 
beloved Fritz and how he would have liked to see his child and 
how we should have comforted one another at having to part 
with her. Her dress and wreath became her so well. Her neck and 
throat looked so white and pretty, and the wreath fitted so nicely 
and close round her head. The gown was of white satin with a 
tablier of cloth of silver trimmed with lilies on lace and garlands 
of orange blossom and myrtle. The train was of white satin 
embroidered all over with silver thread in a Genoese design 

393 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 of the i6th century. The only contretemps was the veil having 
disappeared. It most likely was forgotten at Berlin. She had to 
wear a plain tulle one. She had a necklace of pearls round her 
neck and a few diamond pins in her hair to keep on the veil. The 
ceremony in the Greek Church was very long, but I thought it 
solemn and impressive, and the church though modern is fine. 
All the Bishops with their round mitres and long beards looked 
very well. All the arrangements were very well made. The King 
himself had settled everything. The weather was splendid, like 
on your Jubilee Day, but not too hot; there was pleasant air. 
We drove in our low gowns in open carriages. I drove with dear 
Bertie, which was a great comfort to me. How much I thought 
of you and dear Papa and my wedding when I saw the dear young 
people standing at the Altar. They held a lighted taper each and had 
to walk three times round the Altar (as you know). The Protestant 
Service was very short, but nice in the little Chapel here. The 
King's Chaplain and Kogel officiated, the former married the young 
couple and the latter gave the blessing and said a prayer; two short 
chorales were sung and then we went upstairs to a family luncheon. 
I felt dreadfully upset, but tried to be brave. The Queen of Den- 
mark and dear Olga were most kind and good to me. After the 
lunch Sophie appeared in a very pretty and becoming white and 
gold dress and bonnet, and drove away through the town. Poor 
Moretta and Mossy could keep up no longer and sobbed bitterly. 
Olga, the King and I hastened on foot to Sophie and Tino's house 
to receive them there, Olga blessed them and gave them a picture 
of our Saviour to kiss (which is the custom), and then we left them 
in their new abode where they are now resting until the Gala 
Dinner when they will appear again. Sophie's train was carried 
by Dita Perponcher, Mdlle de Perpignan & Mdlle Soutso, her 
new Lady-in- Waiting. 

Victoria of Wales has been unwell and could not appear, but 
she was up and came to see Sophie and sat in the Protestant Chapel. 
Olga is in great beauty just now; she has the face of a Madonna. 
The Queen of Denmark is wonderful to be able to stand all this 
fatigue. My dear KleeUatt, my trio as you used to call them, is 
broken up now and I feel it bitterly. I suppose one will go after 
the other, but it will be hard indeed when the day comes. When 
I look at my poor Moretta and think what might have been 
and ought to have been, it gives me a great pang, especially when 
394 



THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

I see Sophie with her Tino. Tino was delighted with your lovely 18 
fruit baskets and will thank you himself as soon as he possibly 
can. . . . 

The Empress now continued her holiday in Italy, but 
even whilst holidaymaking the Empress's mind would 
turn again and again to those tragic events of the preced- 
ing year. Even had she wished to forget them it would 
have been difficult to do so in view of the constant stream 
of articles and pamphlets dealing with the illness and 
death of the Emperor Frederick. One of these in particular 
caused her much perturbation. Towards the close of the 
year the celebrated German novelist Gustav Freytag pub- 
lished a volume of reminiscences under the title of Der 
Kronprin^ und die cteutsche Kaiserkrone. The Empress 
had made Freytag's acquaintance in the early years of her 
married life and he had early been the confidant and 
friend of her husband. Her uncle, Duke Ernest of Saxe- 
Coburg-Gotha, was also a great friend and patron of the 
talented novelist. Now, in his reminiscences, Freytag 
drew such a picture of the dead Emperor that it could 
not fail to distress the ex-Empress. Freytag averred that 
the Emperor Frederick as Crown Prince was subjected to 
foreign influence and entirely under the sway of his pro- 
British wife, and it was insinuated that through the Crown 
Princess, Princess Alice and other members of the British 
royal family, important German military secrets had 
reached the French commanders during the course of the 
Franco-German War. 1 The letters of the Crown Princess 
published in this present volume, and the publication of 
the Emperor Frederick's War Diary of 1870-71 in 1922 
are sufficient to disprove these baseless innuendoes, but at 
that time they were accepted by the majority of Germans as 

1 The Empress Frederick : A Memoir, p. 328. 

395 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1 889 indications of the truth, and neither Bismarck nor the Em- 
peror William made any step to contradict the delicately 
veiled charges. Frey tag, in fact, was warmly complimented 
in high quarters on his libellous work. On December 14, 
1889, the Empress wrote to her mother from Naples : 

... It is significant indeed that poor Geffcken, whose publica- 
tion was a piece of indiscretion and imprudence, was imprisoned 
and ail our friends made the subject of persecution because it was 
done with a view to show the people what dear Fritz was. Of 
course, Geffcken had no business to do so, but the intention was a 
good one. Now what Freytag writes is in a spirit of denigrement 
to show the world that Fritz was overrated and I a danger to 
Germany. For this Freytag has been complimented and remains, 
of course, quite unmolested because this acceptation suits the 
government my own son's government. Uncle Ernest con- 
gratulated Freytag and asked him to dinner at his Minister's. 
Uncle Ernest is quite delighted with the book. 

There was a Director of the Gotha Museum, a Doctor Alden- 
hoven, of whom we always had a high opinion. He was well known 
to Fritz Holstein and poor Fanny Reventlow. He is a sincere 
Liberal and one of the very few honest and respectable men in 
Uncle's service. Old Seebach liked him also. Now Aldenhoven 
has resigned because Uncle sent him word that it would com- 
promise him (Uncle) in William's eyes if a Liberal deutsch Frei- 
smniger remained in his service. Is it not disgusting to see how 
Uncle pays his court to Bismarck, William, etc. He ought to be 
too proud and independent, but alas, I fear Uncle is capable of 
anything and everything that is undignified now. 

I hear now this Freytag is going to bring out a Biography of 
Normann this annoys me very much, as Normann was in our 
house for upwards of 20 years. It is sure to touch upon things 
connected with us, and in a spirit which will not be what I should 
wish, and I dread new disagreeables. . . . 

A few days later the Empress received a great and 
unpleasant shock. Among the papers of the Emperor 
Frederick which had been taken from Friedrichskron 
396 



THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

the day after his death there was a sealed letter addressed i 
to the Empress containing his wishes regarding his funeral 
and other matters. For eighteen months this letter was 
held back from her owing to an " oversight " ? and it was 
not until December 17, 1889, that the Empress received 
this pathetically intimate letter. Three days later she 
wrote to Queen Victoria from Naples : 

I think you will feel for me, dear Mama, when I tell you what 
a shock I had three days ago, which upset me most terribly. I 
received a letter from William's Hofmarschall, H. von Lynker, who 
was formerly with us, and opened the cover quite unconsciously 
it contained a sealed letter directed to me in my darling Fritz's 
handwriting. This letter to me contained his wishes, directions 
and orders about his funeral and all that was to be done and 
not done, and what he specially forbids ; begging me to see that 
this be carried out. 

This letter Lynker had had all the time in a box which he had 
forgotten to open and look through and now examined by accident. 
It made me quite ill and reminded me of those terrible days and 
how they refused to listen to my prayers and entreaties to leave 
those dear, sacred, precious remains of my darling undisturbed. 
How brutally and cruelly those whom I will not name behaved to 
me. Perhaps they would not have dared had I been able to show 
this letter; though William ignored other letters expressing his 
father's wishes, and though they seemed to dare everything that 
was shameful and bad. 

I felt sure Fritz must have left some directions, but as you 
know, none were ever found, and now a year and a half after, 
they are found in William's Hofmarschairs box! 

I have not been able to sleep properly since, I am still so upset. 
Lynker is much distressed. I am certain he did not mean it at all 
and it was an oversight, pure carelessness and accident, but it gives 
me great pain. I told him that I bore him no grudge. But my 
wrongs and woes rise up again in my memory with a vividness 
which is an agony. 

The effect of the publication of Freytag's reminis- 
cences was to cause a recrudescence of the bitter contro- 

397 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 versies over the Emperor Frederick's actions and Ideals, 
and a Doctor Harmening entered the lists on behalf of 
the dead Emperor. Unfortunately, he gave Duke Ernest 
of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha the opportunity to charge him 
with libellous statements, and in the result the Doctor 
was sentenced to six months' imprisonment. Harmening's 
pamphlet had been written as a counterblast to another 
pamphlet in which the belittling of the late Emperor was 
carried to a further pitch, and the Empress, rightly or 
wrongly, thought that this scandalous publication was 
due to her pro-Bismarckian uncle, Duke Ernest. On 
December 24, 1889, the Empress wrote to Queen Victoria 
from Naples : 

Another thing which has sadly annoyed me is that the man (a 
Doctor Harmening, not personally known to me) has lost the law- 
suit in which Uncle Ernest had him accused of libel. It is a great 
pity. Uncle was very sly and supported by clever lawyers. The 
result is, that Uncle, who is the author of that villainous pamphlet, 
escapes free, whereas the man who boldly defended Fritz, me and 
you, and spoke up in a manly tone, is sent to prison for six months 
and has to pay the costs. Uncle considers this a new triumph. It 
is deeply regretted by all our friends in Germany. I send you a 
newspaper extract containing the trial. Uncle, who has avowed, 
to people I know, having written the monstrous pamphlet against 
us, now finds himself sheltered from public indignation, by avoid- 
ing letting the proofs be found. This result is most unfortunate 
and unjust, but it is pretty well known now everywhere that he 
is the author and that Dr. Harmening, as ill luck would have it, was 
not able to prove it and bring it home to him. I could if I liked, 
but of course would not and could not do such a thing against 
Papa's own brother, and also for Alfred's sake besides the disgust 
at creating such a scandal. Uncle, knowing all this, allows the man 
to be condemned for libel who has only spoken the truth. 

A fortnight later the Empress returned to Berlin for 
the funeral of the Empress Augusta, her mother-in-law, 
398 



THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

who had died suddenly on January 7. On January n 1889 
the Empress wrote to Queen Victoria : 

I ought to have written yesterday, but I was so knocked up 
with the journey that I felt both shaken and excited and my eyes 
sore, so I hope you will excuse me. We rushed away from Rome 
on the most lovely day, warm and fine, a deep blue cloudless sky, 
the place looking so splendid in its stately beauty. The King and 
Queen and many friends whom I was so sorry to leave were at 
the station. The journey reminded me cruelly of the one from 
San Remo. . . . 

William was at the station and I made him take me to my 
house the empty desert silence in all the rooms made my heart 
ache. I just changed my clothes and went to the Schloss and into 
the Chapel where the poor Empress lay in her coffin, which looked 
like a bed as it was so covered with flowers. You would have 
thought she was just going to a fte, or a soiree, her face was so 
calm and peaceful and had grown younger. There seemed not a 
wrinkle, and the eyes that used to stare so and look one through 
and through were closed, which gave her a gentler expression than 
I ever saw in life. Her false hair in ringlets on her brow, the line 
of the eyebrows and eyelashes carefully painted as in life a golden 
myrtle wreath on her head and an ample tulle veil, very well 
arranged, flowing and curling about her head and neck and 
shoulders, hiding her chin, her hands folded, her bracelets on and 
her wedding ring. The cloth of gold train lined and trimmed with 
ermine which she wore for her golden wedding was very well 
folded and composed about her person and over her feet, and 
flowed far down the steps in front. She looked wonderfully well 
and really almost like a young person. I felt that if she could have 
seen herself she would have been pleased. She was " the Empress " 
even in death and surrounded with all the stiff pomp and ceremony 
she loved so much. 

Still I think there is something indescribably touching about 
that last sleep and the expression it sometimes gives to counten- 
ances. Only one I could not bear to think of, and it half kills me 
to remember, and that was my angel her son. 

Yesterday evening at 9 o'clock I was there again (but without 
the children) to take leave, and attend a short service before the 
closing of the coffin. The Schloss Chapel was suffocatingly hot 

399 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

and all filled with lights. There was a number of the family there, 
and I felt so lonely, so helpless among them all, and among all 
those Court officials. No one took me up or down stairs and one 
feels so set on one side, so forgotten, that to all my pain it gives 
me a feeling of bitterness difficult to describe. Dona means quite 
kindly, I suppose, but her grand condescending airs aggravate one 
so much. . . . How all this would have affected Fritz. He would 
have felt his poor mother's death terribly. His kind and tender 
heart gave more affection than he received. 

The Empress Frederick now hoped that at last she 
might be of some little use again, and she was especially 
desirous of taking up the Red Cross and hospital work, 
which had been continued since 1871 under the direction 
of the Empress Augusta. But here again she was to be 
disappointed, for the Emperor calmly ignored her, and 
made his wife, the Kaiserin, head of the various societies 
in which the Empress Augusta had taken so much interest. 
On January 13 die Empress Frederick wrote : 

I am indeed distressed not to be able to send a line with General 
Gardener, but yesterday I had to receive people all day long ; I 
could not find a moment for writing. I was going to tell you what 
has hurt my feelings so much. The Empress Augusta was at the 
head of the Red Cross Society and the Vaterlaniischer Fratten- 
verein. These are very large societies and might be made exceed- 
ingly useful if well and efficiently worked and directed. Ever since 
1870 it had been Fritz's great wish and his intention that I should 
succeed the Empress Augusta in this capacity whenever she felt 
too tired, etc., to go on with it, or in case of her death. I have 
for years taken trouble to prepare everything for this, as General 
v. Bronsart, Prof. Esmark, the Duke of Ratibor, Wegner and 
others can tell you ; and when my affliction came, everyone who 
was not my direct enemy rejoiced at the thought that tids branch 
of activity and usefulness would be left me, as everything else, 
LouisenorJen, Stiftfatten, etc., has passed to Dona, who has all 
the social duties, representations, etc. I wrote to Louise of Baden 
about it last year. I also asked Count SeckendorfF to speak to 
Kneseback. It was I who helped the Empress Augusta with the 
400 



THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

sick and wounded in 1864, 1866 and 1870-1871, and since then I 18 
have continued to study the subject. On arriving the other morning 
I spoke to William and said that I was ready now to take over 
these two Societies of course, I did not mention the Augusta 
Hospital nor the Augusta Stift, as I thought Dona would have 
the patronage. He answered, "You need not trouble yourself 
about it, my wife arranged with the Empress Augusta a year ago 
that she would take her place and also take Knesebeck into her 
service ". 

Therefore my daughter-in-law and my mother-in-law both 
thought fit to ignore me and cut me out, and to prevent my having 
a work which would, of course, become very important in time and 
give me a certain amount of influence. My gentlemen and ladies 
are so annoyed and shocked that they can hardly believe it. You 
see how I am treated, dearest Mama, and how much the assurances 
of William are worth when he says he wishes to do everything to 
please me. It will take me a long while to get over this. Please 
say nothing about it; the thing is done. The Stocker party, into 
whose hands all these things will fall, more or less triumph and 
rejoice at this new affront to me. The thing is done and in the most 
offensive way to my feelings, so there is no use saying a word more 
about it, it only makes it impossible for me in " Charities **, etc., 
to work with Dona this I should refuse to do. I have a little 
experience, not so much as I should like, but certainly more and 
I believe, without vanity, a little more education and knowledge 
than Dona, so that it will be to the detriment of the interests of the 
public and also prevent these Societies from developing into what 
they might be. In the case of war, which Heaven prevent, I should 
simply have nothing to say, and be under Dona's orders, a thing 
I should most certainly not submit to. Pray excuse my troubling 
you with these affairs of mine they are, of course, very insignifi- 
cant compared with larger and more general interests ; but I think 
you too will be sorry that I should have the grievous disappoint- 
ment and this treatment at the hands of my mother-in-law and 
my children. Poor Empress, she is gone and I do not harbour any 
feeling against her that is not kind or right; on the contrary I feel 
that she was Fritz's mother and that he would have mourned her 
loss most sincerely, but after having been her daughter-in-law for 
over thirty years, I think that a proof of her confidence or affection 
would have been versohnend after all I have gone through, and 
2D 401 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1889 that it -would also in Dona and William's eyes have done me 
good. 

It now became evident that there were elements in 
Germany which were becoming more and more dis- 
satisfied with the dictatorial and autocratic regime of the 
Emperor and Prince Bismarck, especially with regard to 
their treatment of the press. Finally, utterance was given 
to these sentiments in the Reichstag by Prince Henry 
Carolath, who, in the January of 1890, voiced the grow- 
ing dissatisfaction. On January 26 and January 31 the 
Empress Frederick wrote to her mother : 

... I send you an extract from a newspaper containing a 
speech made in the Reichstag by Prince Carolath, to whom Fritz 
was always very kind, and who has the courage, as you will read, 
to censure a state of things which, while muzzling the press in 
every way, allows attacks on Fritz and me and you such as 
contained in Uncle Ernest's vile pamphlet to go unnoticed and 
people who protest against the lies in these pamphlets to be sent to 
prison for having libelled Uncle Ernest. It is very honourable of 
Prince Carolath to have spoken up ; it will draw down the wrath 
of the Government and die Court upon him, but all honest and 
unprejudiced people will applaud him. 

I send you [she wrote again on January 31] this article about 
Prince Carolath's excellent speech and Uncle Ernest's shameful 
pamphlets. The matter is not at rest and Uncle has caused Tempel- 
tey to deny that he (Uncle) has ever written them. He boasted 
before of having done so, and I told you in 1887 of the mischievous 
effect of this pamphlet (the first one) and of how my three eldest 
children believed every word of what William then said. It sowed 
the seeds of distrust in William's mind against his father and me 
this was fostered by the Bismarck party and false ambitious people, 
and so perverted William's ideas that it caused him to do all he did 
in 1887-1888. It will take years to clear the nonsense and lies out 
of his head and show people and things to him in their true light, 
as there is no one about him who could have a good and wise 
influence and also the authority to convince him of all the mis- 
402 



THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

apprehensions he was a victim of and still labours under. As long 1890 
as Prince B. lives, as long as Herbert and H. v. Kessel remain about 
him and he believes them, of course, it would be hopeless to 
attempt to clear things up. They have weapons with which a 
simple outsider cannot compete ; and besides it is of the utmost 
importance to them not to be shown up. 

One must have patience and keep quite quiet and say nothing. 
The day will come perhaps when the truth will come to light, and 
to attempt to hurry on that day would be to spoil all. ... 

Uncle Ernest has much to answer for. His behaviour to you, 
to Fritz and to me is simply disgraceful ; it is too grievous, as we 
have all been so kind to him and really fond of him and I never 
thought he had a bad heart, though I always knew he was most 
unscrupulous and unprincipled and had an imagination which 
played him the most extraordinary tricks. . . . 

Meanwhile, Bismarck, ever the avowed opponent of 
Socialism, was seeking an amendment of the repressive 
Socialist Law of 1873, which definitely combated Social- 
ism, in such a manner as to continue its provisions in- 
definitely. This brought about a sharp difference of 
opinion between him and the Emperor William, who 
pointedly remarked that so far from wishing to handicap 
the working classes, he wished to be like Frederick the 
Great wi rot desgueux* In spite of the Emperor's opposi- 
tion, however, a bill for amending the law was introduced 
in October 1889, but was rejected on January 25, 1890, 
and parliament was now closed by the Emperor. A few 
days later, on February 4, the Emperor issued two re- 
scripts in which he urgently recommended action for the 
improvement of the condition of the working classes, 
and towards this end suggested the co-operation of 
England, France, Belgium and Switzerland. It was on 
February 15 that the Empress wrote to Queen Victoria 
from Berlin: 

1 The ex-Kaiser William IL's My Memoirs^ p. 37. 

403 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1890 I know absolutely nothing of what is going on except what 
I read in the newspapers, or can only pick up from one of my 
friends. When I visit William, which is very seldom, we talk of 
the weather so that I am very much more out of everything than I 
was when I arrived here a girl of 17! ! Of course, this is unavoid- 
able since all that happened two years ago. 

This playing at State Socialism appears very dangerous to me 
and always has! My beloved Fritz was so much against the passing 
of the Socialist Law! He foresaw what the Liberal party always 
foresaw and which has now happened, i.e. it would only encourage 
the growth of Socialism and teach the Socialists to organize them- 
selves into a body secretly. This is now done. They have grown 
with extraordinary rapidity even since last year, and all the miners 
who sent a deputation to William last year have since joined the 
Socialists. For years Bismarck and his party have prevented William 
from seeing with other eyes than theirs. He (William) is absolutely 
ignorant! He has never studied politics or these questions, which 
are so serious ! He hardly knows a single political man. Of the 
Liberals in Germany he does not know one!!! He always was 
taught to avoid all our friends, and now there is no one to tell him 
the truth. He never asks what his father thought and would have 
done, but takes the advice of the oddest and most incompetent 
people whom he meets by accident and who are mere amateurs. 
How true is the proverb, " Fools rush in where angels fear to 
tread ". This new Staatsrath is made up of the strangest and 
most incongruous elements and not one member of the Liberal 
party!! Men who have spent their lives amongst the working 
classes, who have watched the whole of the development of the 
so-called " social question " (such a stupid word) for the last thirty 
years, who represent no class interests, and want absolutely nothing 
for themselves, and are anxious to save William from danger, for 
his father's sake, are ignored! They have no means of approach- 
ing him or of making their views heard, of giving a timely word 
of warning. Prince Bismarck, whose fault the present situation is, of 
course sees the rashness of what is done and does not approve it! 
He often talks of retiring right and left! I think he counts upon 
William getting into a dreadful mess and a scrape, and his then 
being appealed to to put everything what he thinks straight again. 
He is so shrewd that he understands marvellously how to make 
the best for himself out of other people's mistakes also out of 
404 



THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

his Sovereign. William is so green that he makes blunders which 1890 
take one's breath away. He is perfectly delighted with himself, 
and the flattery which is continually lavished upon him makes 
him think himself a genius!! It makes me very unhappy to see 
my own child surrounded with dangers and rushing headlong into 
things of which he does not understand the drift! He listens to 
Hintzpeter on the subject of Christian Socialism. His ideas are very 
good to listen to, but, alas, too doctrinaire and theoretical to be the 
only ones to go by. After all Hintzpeter is not a political man by 
profession. He is extremely kind and charitable to the poor, but he 
has a one-sided view of the question. William also listens to a Count 
Douglas (a great donkey) and Geheimrath v. Heyden, an amiable 
man, a painter, who was a miner thirty years ago. How all this will end 
I do not know! I think the proclamation most unconstitutional, and 
it is not counter-signed. No one knows what to make of it ! Those 
who have, as I have, watched the unwholesome development of 
German politics for the last twenty years, cannot be surprised at the 
muddle and mess and confusion they are in now, and a young, totally 
inexperienced, totally ignorant man at the head of affairs, who is a 
very great despot and wields a great power and has no wise heads 
about him. Coquetting with the " mob " and making independent 
men hold their tongues always has been part of Prince Bismarck's 
programme as it was the Emperor Napoleon IIL's. 

However, if this curious Staatsrath only does a little good, one 
may be glad. But I fear there are troublous and stormy days ahead 
for Germany! . . . 

The parliamentary elections early in 1890 resulted in 
an increased Socialist representation in the German parlia- 
ment. Meanwhile, England, France, Belgium and Swit- 
zerland had considered the Emperor William's proposals 
for an international agreement on questions affecting the 
working classes, and a Labour Conference was mooted. 
On February 19 the Empress wrote : 

Is it not rather embarrassing to know what to do about this 
international Labour Conference ? I think it is very imprudent 
and ill-advised to come forward with an international scheme before 
having privately enquired whether the different Governments find 

405 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1890 it convenient or possible to accept proposals! It is true the Labour 
question exists in every country alike, but still under very different 
conditions. A Conference of this kind, or a Congress, is very dif- 
ferent from a " postal telegraph " or " monetary " Conference or 
from a scientific Congress! One must be a very great authority 
on these subjects, or possess a vast experience to venture on such 
a step as a proposal to settle this question. To stir it up with- 
out arriving at some very striking, important and satisfactory 
result, is the worst thing that could be done. It raises expectations 
doomed to be disappointed and excites the masses instead of calm- 
ing them, which is the very thing to be avoided and will lead to a 
struggle here to coercion and perhaps violence and then re- 
action. Prince Bismarck sees this most likely does he wish it or 
not ? Will it profit 'him and his party in the end or not ? I cannot 
tell you! I think Cardinal Manning makes a great mistake in ex- 
tolling William's step to such a degree. How differently beloved 
Fritz would have gone to work and handled these delicate danger- 
ous questions! There is such a difference between courage and 
foolhardiness. How much study and knowledge, experience and 
wisdom and good counsel are necessary for great reforms ! Why 
not assemble the best heads in Europe to discuss these questions 
unofficially and privately such as Sir L. Mallet, M. de Lavalaye, 
M. Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, and many others? The question 
would ripen gradually, and by consulting the German Liberals, who 
are the most learned of all, one might arrive at a conclusion which 
William's Government might submit to the Reichstag. Now I 
fear there will be much confusion and very little result. There is 
too intimate a connection between economic questions and the 
Labour question to be able to solve one quite without the other! 
I think such men as Lord Brassey and Lord Armstrong would 
admit that Prince Bismarck's protectionist policy, which William 
admires so much without understanding it, is at the bottom of 
many of the evils we are suffering under the high prices of food, 
etc., which are dreadful for the working classes, of course make 
low wages much worse, and consequently the amount of hours 
of work too great But it is too vast a subject to approach in a 
few words. Fritz and I never ceased to study it, therefore it is 
nothing new to me! " Look before you leap " I should like to 
write in big letters over William's table though it would be of 
very little use, I fear. 
406 



THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

Feb. 20. 1890 

Prince Bismarck and his wife came to see me yesterday. He 
spoke a long while on the subject of William's newest coup! He 
also spoke of retiring soon, as he could not keep pace with inno- 
vations so suddenly resolved on and carried out in such a hurry 
and on the advice of people he thought in no way competent to 
give it. I daresay he quite means what he says in this instance, 
but I do not suppose his resignation would be accepted. It seems 
to me that he was quite de bonne foi with William and that he tried 
his best to dissuade him from an experiment which he thinks not 
only a great risk, but for which he sees no likelihood of success. 
Seeing that William was bent on it, especially at the instigation of 
Hintzpeter, who told William he would find it "a mine of popu- 
larity for himself and it would make him a great man, etc.", and 
a Count Douglas (such a stupid man), a M. de Berlepsch (whom 
therefore Prince Bismarck instantly proposed as Minister), and the 
painter, G. v. Heyden, Prince Bismarck, as he said, concentrated his 
endeavours on trying to make the step as harmless as he could ; 
he re-wrote the Erlass and he begged that everything diplomatic 
might be left out of the proposed international Congress or Con- 
ference. So far, I think Prince Bismarck was very wise, and acted 
very loyally towards William, and I could only agree with him! 
Of course, he did not discuss principles of policy; with those you 
know I could not agree. But I certainly think the advice he gave 
William in this case was prudent and sensible and practical and I 
am very sorry it was not taken. 

I thought Prince Bismarck looked remarkably strong and well 
and inclined to take things very philosophically. He is exceedingly 
fond of William and he never was of Fritz (this is quite natural), but 
I fancy he is uneasy at the very great self-confidence and the naivete 
with which he exercises his will and takes responsibilities, and also 
at the curious people who have access to him and are listened to. 

Please look upon all this as confidential. I watch all these things 
as a perfect outsider and impartial observer. 

Pel. 21. 

Since I wrote the above I see that poor Sir Louis Mallet is dead. 

How very very sorry I am, he was such a distinguished man ! . . . 

I have just received your dear letter by messenger, for which 

so many thanks. Of course, everything done for the working 

407 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1890 classes for their real good and their real interest is a step in the 
right direction and one everybody would hail with pleasure. But 
William has never troubled Ms head in the least about the poor, or 
the working classes, and knows absolutely nothing about them, or 
he would have consulted more people, tried to obtain more in- 
formation and have carefully prepared the step he has taken. He 
has never mentioned affairs or politics before me since 1888. I 
should most certainly never make a remark before him or offer 
an opinion if it is not asked after the way in which I have been 
treated the slights and insults and impertinences which I have 
had to swallow! I should neither be understood nor listened to, 
therefore I could do no goodl Perhaps the time may come, but 
certainly it has not arrived. 

He seeks no advice nor cares to know what his own parents 
thought on these subjects he fancies he is gifted with supreme 
wisdom, therefore one must let him alone. Perhaps he will all the 
sooner be inclined later to see things as they are, then I shall 
certainly not refuse to make myself of use to him, but to take the 
initiative would be a great mistake on my part and a want of 
proper pride and that is the last thing one clings to when all 
else is taken from one. The adulation and flattery which is heaped 
upon him you would hardly believe. His mother is the only one 
who will not stoop to this and is naturally considered a bore in 
consequence. There are so many who are anxious to get rid of 
me as the last remnant of Fritz's reign and of his ideas, that it is 
only by remaining perfectly quiet and passive that I can be safe 
from their accusations, their attacks and intrigues, and their con- 
stant Hei^erei and rapportage at the Schloss. 

I think, however, on the whole it is better and not worse, and 
that they are less bent on persecuting me than they were, but the 
terrain here is perfectly intolerable, personal ambition, spite 
and jealousy and intrigue are rife, and displayed with still more 
impudence than they used to be. I think everyone feels this! But 
as they see that I want nothing and do not care to have so-called 
influence, and have no curiosity to know their doings and their 
secrets, and that they cannot frighten or drive me away with 
their shameful calumnies, they rather leave off throwing stones at 
me and think me harmless and sans consequence, which of course 
makes William and Dona less suspicious and on the defensive, or 
on the look out for offences, which really was quite unbearable. 
408 



THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

"When we meet we are quite friendly and comfortable, and no 1890 
one sees the wounds and the daggers in my heart nor how 
profoundly I feel all the wrongs Fritz and I have suffered. 

A fortnight later, March 7, she wrote : 

What a pity it is the Times makes such superficial and pre- 
judiced remarks about our elections! The Freisinnige are not 
republicans or democrats at all they are as like English Whigs as 
they can be they want constitutional government as little state 
interference as possible and free trade, no Socialism, no repressive 
laws, no persecution of Jews or Catholics. Of course they do 
grumble about the army budget sometimes and they oppose the 
taxes on wheat, bread, tea and coffee. They are specially detested 
by Prince Bismarck and consequently calumniated in every possible 
way. I do not see why the Times should stick up for such unfair- 
ness. The Cologne Gazette had an article on the 4th of this month 
which I really think was the most abominable one I ever read. I 
sadly fear it was inspired by Prince Bismarck's entourage. 

I fear poor William thinks all will be very easy and that he 
has only to dictate his wishes, etc. a rather childlike idea. He is 
most despotic and arbitrary in all his instincts and one cannot well 
govern that way nowadays. 

The path of an autocrat is strewn with difficulties, but 
even if he succeeds in trampling them down he can never 
work with or under another autocrat. The Emperor had 
learnt from Bismarck the secrets of autocratic govern- 
ment and was beginning to assert himself, with the in- 
evitable result that they were gradually coming to logger- 
heads over the Socialist question. On March 15 the 
Empress wrote : 

Today these delegates arrive on their curious mission. How one 
does bless a Constitution like the British one, when one sees a young 
man* totally without knowledge and experience, playing the despot, 
without anything to prevent him from running into danger or mis- 
chief. It would be a curious Nemesis if, for all his past sins, Prince 
Bismarck were to fall, just the very time he happened to be in the 

409 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1890 right not one older man or older relation is there to give a little 
timely advice, to warn and give a gentle hint, both in political and 
important matters, or in family and court matters. If we could have 
had William to ourselves the last four years, or if I had him even 
now, a great deal could be prevented, and he would not be as blind 
and ignorant as he is. I am sorry to say poor Dona is not a help but 
an obstacle. Her pride is so great and she thinks she knows better 
than everyone, because she is the Empress, and she is always 
on the defensive and ridiculously exigeante. The flattery that is 
lavished on both of them is enough to turn any lady's head and it 
is no wonder that hers is turned. They never ask or consult me 
on any one subject, great or small ; but only invite me to their 
family dinner, just as they would an aunt or a cousin. They have 
not a single wise or steady head about them ; some very respect- 
able and well-meaning people, others who are dangerous and 
intriguing, but not a single superior man or woman. 

I am quite away and out of everything and know very little of 
what goes on at the Schloss. I only meet William or Dona at 
family dinners, amongst all the others, which, of course, are painful 
occasions to me, and I try to make the hour pass pleasantly and 
hide all my sad and bitter thoughts and feelings. 

Dona enjoys her position intensely and her whole face expresses 
the most intense satisfaction. She is convinced that all William 
and she do and think and say is perfect, and this is certainly a state 
of beatitude. She meddles in everything the family does, every 
little trifle is reported to her, and she orders and directs in a way 
very galling for the others from so young a person. 

Three days later, on March 18, 1890, Prince Bismarck 
suddenly resigned, and the Emperor appointed General 
Georg von Caprivi in his place as Chancellor. Mean- 
while, Queen Victoria had received the Empress Fred- 
erick's letter of the 15th, and in her reply had asked why 
it was that she had been " so keen " on Dona's marriage 
to her son William. On March 22 the Empress replied : 

. . . You say: why did I wish so much for William's marriage 
and fight so hard to obtain it? Because amongst those young 
Princesses I knew (as it was not thought advisable he should marry 
410 



THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

a cousin) Dona seemed to me the most likely to make an excellent 1890 
wife and mother. We had a great esteem and affection for her 
father, who had great confidence in us and with whom we were 
so intimate. I then hoped and thought she might be grateful and 
affectionate to me and show me confidence in that ray hopes 
have been completely disappointed! She has quite forgotten, or 
does not like to remember, or really does not understand what 
she owes me. She has a great sense of duty, but she does not seem 
to see what her duty towards me is! She is an excellent wife and 
though not a judicious yet a devoted mother! I am glad to see 
her so happy and that she and William and the children are all 
so prosperous, etc., and of course I am thankful for that, but for 
myself, my comfort in my loneliness and sorrow, as a support, 
they, alas, do not exist! This may change in time, though I much 
doubt it. This is not the moment to try and open their eyes on 
the subject of all I have had to endure, which they simply ignore. 
If other people surrounded them and could explain it all to them 
and show them how infamous the conduct of so many towards 
us was in 1887-1888, against me in 1889, and how untrue were all 
those accusations, I daresay they would feel sorry and also feel 
differently and behave differently towards me, and I might then 
forgive it all, though I could not forget it. 

I cannot approve of the way in which Prince Bismarck's resigna- 
tion came about and think it in some ways a dangerous experiment, 
as I do raising this so-called " Social question " at this moment! 
I am afraid nothing good will come of it! The love of playing the 
despot and of showing off is very great. General Caprivi is a 
General of whom Fritz thought a great deal, and whom he had 
always hoped to have some day later as Minister of War! He is 
an honest, straightforward, respectable man, of great energy a 
very stubborn and determined will, not given to any compromises 
and rather violent. I should not think he understood politics in 
the least, but he is incapable of saying what he does not mean, or 
of an intrigue of any kind ! 

The system Bismarck [created] was intensely corrupt and bad, 
this, however, is not the reason that William wanted the change, 
and this he does not even see through. The genius and prestige of 
Prince Bismarck might still have been useful and valuable for Ger- 
many and for the cause of peace, especially with so inexperienced 
and imprudent a Sovereign, and I fear that he will be missed in 

411 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1890 that respect, as I also fear that the combination which is to replace 
him will not be strong enough! William fancies he can do every- 
thing himself you know he cannot a little modesty and Selbst- 
erkenntniss would show him that he is not the genius or the 
Frederick the Great he imagines, and I fear he will get into trouble. 
If Prince B, were to retire a Ministry could have replaced him 
with Prince Chlodwig Hohenlohe as Chancellor, Hatzfeldt as 
Foreign Minister, Caprivi as Minister of "War and a Liberal as 
Minister for Home Affairs we should have had nothing to fear, 
and could not look upon Prince Bismarck's retirement as a mis- 
fortune! Wise and experienced and conciliatory men would have 
had the confidence of Germany and of Europe, and in time, I am 
sure, would have had the best influence on William, and the barrier 
which exists between him and me would also soon have melted 
away, and all the eminent men in Germany who were kept away 
by the machinations of the Bismarck system would gradually have 
come forward, their opinions would have been heard and discussed, 
and an era of peace and stability would have commenced such as 
Fritz's reign would have been! Now I see nothing but confusion 
sudden resolutions not sufficiently considered suddenly carried 
out, with a truly Bismarckian contempt for people's feelings, but 
without the coup d'ceil de mcutre which Bismarck often hadl What 
was wrong in him and what would be right to do now, William 
does not see and there is no one to tell him, as all those are kept 
away, or have been purposely discredited in William's eyes, who 
could have advised him! You can imagine that I am not very 
happy or comfortable about the state of things. . . . 

Three days later (March 25, 1890) the Empress wrote : 

Prince and Princess Bismarck came and took farewell, and 
General Caprivi paid me a long visit, and I thought him extremely 
sensible and only hope he may succeed ; but he is a very conscien- 
tious man, and thoroughly in earnest, and if William means (as 
he says sometimes) merely to have people who " obey him " and 
" carry out his orders ", I fear he will find it very difficult, almost 
impossible, to fulfil all the duties of his office, which in the eyes of 
the nation has an immense responsibility! I am afraid William is a 
most thorough despot and has some very queer ideas on this sub- 
ject in his head. Prince Bismarck told me much that was very 
412 



THE FALL OF PRINCE BISMARCK 

interesting to hear! He did not exactly complain, but I think he 1890 
feels very deeply that he has not been treated with the considera- 
tion due to his age and position. We parted amicably and in 
peace, which I am glad of, as I should have been sorry having 
suffered so much all these long years under the system that it 
should appear as if I had any spirit of revenge, which I really 
have not. Many feel the son's coming departure as a deliverance. 
I think General Verdy Duvernoy was the principal instrument in 
getting rid of Prince Bismarck. . . . 

The fall of Bismarck, however, did not bring about 
any of those political or social changes for which the 
Empress Frederick had hoped. As she wrote to Queen 
Victoria on March 29 : 

. . . The confusion to me seems extreme, and the state of 
things most anxious and unsatisfactory. Changes in those things 
which were most to be regretted in Prince Bismarck's adminis- 
tration are not contemplated, as I hear William wishes to have the 
son [Herbert Bismarck] back again soon. It would be a very great 
mistake. The only good I see in all that is being done, is having 
so honest a man as General Caprivi at the head of affairs, but I 
doubt very much whether he can or will remain. 

The Conference, I believe, has worked quite well, but what 
the result will be, and how much of that result will be carried out 
and put into practice, is another question, to which I think but 
few can give a sanguine answer. . . . 

Whether or not the Empress was right in believing 
that her son desired to retain the services of the younger 
Bismarck as Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Count Herbert 
resigned on April i ? and was succeeded in that office by 
Baron Marschall von Bieberstein. A week later, on April 
8, the Empress Frederick wrote to Queen Victoria : 

I cannot tell you much about what is going on here in the way 
of politics, but I look with alarm to the future! Everything must 
be done in a hurry and be startling! and emanate or seem to 
emanate from one source! I think a Ministry composed of Jules 

413 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1890 Verne with Lord Randolph Churchill and Lord C. Beresford as 
steadiest elements, and with General Boulanger and a few African 
travellers (poor Mr. Gordon Gumming, if he were alive) and 
certainly Richard Wagner, if he were alive, would be the sort that 
would best suit the taste in high quarters, and we might no doubt 
pass through phases most refreshing and sensational in their 
novelty and originality, and adventures of all sorts would not be 
wanting. Sometimes one does not know whether to laugh or to 
cry! I wonder how long Caprivi will last and what he will be 
able to do! He is a very steady man, honest and determined, very 
conservative and very military! 

The new Minister of Foreign Affairs has never so much as 
written his name down in my book, nor has Herbert Bismarck 
announced his Demission or been to take leave, which is very rude, 
as he was Fritz's Minister, but I am heartily glad that I shall be 
spared having to see him, or speak to him! . . . 

It seems to me [she added in a postscript] that the German 
Emperor is to be converted into a sort of Tsar, and Germany to 
be governed by ukases. 

Bismarck had fallen, William II. was now supreme, 
but the event, instead of bringing the Empress Frederick 
back into any position where she might usefully give 
service to the country of her adoption, resulted in her 
being, except for one brief and transient mission, relegated 
to the furthest possible point in the German political and 
social background. 



414 



CHAPTER XVI 

CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

THE fall of Bismarck, wide though its influence was upon 1890 
the destiny of Germany, made for the moment little 
change in the life of the Empress Frederick. It was true 
that she had now no longer an inveterate enemy at the 
head of the German Government, for the new Chancellor, 
General von Caprivi, wisely abstained from interfering 
in matters outside the scope of his office. But her son, the 
Emperor William, although freed from the influence of 
Bismarck, showed little sign of any slightly kindlier atti- 
tude towards her ; and in all other respects her position 
was unchanged. For her part, the Empress maintained 
her attitude of non-interference in state affairs, and 
occupied herself not only with the many works of charity 
in which she had always taken a keen interest, but also 
with those artistic activities which gave her so much 
pleasure. One form that this activity took was the build- 
ing of a house after her own heart, and it was at Cronberg 
that she acquired an estate of a villa and a few acres from 
Dr. Steibel, the son-in-law of Mr, Reiss, a Manchester 
manufacturer, who had given it the name of the Villa 
Reiss. Adjoining properties were also bought, so that the 
estate was enlarged to about 250 acres. The Villa Reiss 
was practically demolished, and in its place there gradu- 
ally arose a model domus regalis which bore upon its front 
porch the inscription " Frederici Memoriae ". The house 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1890 was designed by a celebrated German architect, Herr Ihne, 
but was regarded by people in Germany as being rather 
an English country-house than a German castle, and there 
was some truth in this assumption, for the architect had 
been advised to go to England by the Empress to study 
the more modern houses. " Friedrichshof ", as the Em- 
press's new residence was called, was completed in the 
year 1893, but from 1889 to that date its planning, decora- 
tion and development were a constant source of interest 
to the Empress. It was here that she now housed the 
large number of art treasures that she had acquired, and 
there was ample reason for the comparison of the galleries 
and saloons of the ground floor with the finest of the 
German museums. 

Here, at Cronberg, the Empress soon made hosts of 
real friends among the inhabitants, and in an extremely 
short space of time began to be regarded by them very 
much in the same way as Queen Victoria was regarded 
at Balmoral. 

The Empress's retirement to Cronberg seemed to 
emphasise her determination to give her enemies no 
excuse for accusing her of meddling with political affairs, 
yet she still continued to take a vivid interest in all that 
concerned the welfare of Germany and her native land. 
Particularly did the activities of her son, the Emperor 
William, engage her attention, and when, on May 6, 1890, 
he opened die new Parliament with a speech in which, 
while professing an ardent desire for peace, he asked for 
18,000,000 marks for the increase of the German army, 
the Empress wrote to Queen Victoria four days later : 

. . . The speech at the opening of the Reichstag has created 
much disappointment in this part of Germany. Not only were 
people astonished at the change of ministers not being mentioned, 
416 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

but many another thing that was expected and hoped for was not 
spoken of, such as the determination not to renew the Socialist 
Law, the restitution of the Guelphfond, the abolition of the terrible 
and useless passport vexations in Alsace on the French frontier ; 
things that are just and necessary, that Fritz always intended to 
carry out, and which would strengthen the present government 
and make it popular, though no great reforms in themselves. . . . 

It seemed, indeed, as if it was still the intention of the 
Emperor William to ignore all that the Emperor Frederick 
had planned or projected. It was therefore a pleasant and 
touching experience for the Empress Frederick to learn 
that her husband's memory was revered in Berlin and 
that the town wished to erect a monument to his memory. 
The Emperor William, however, refused to permit any 
such thing, and it was with feelings of exasperation and 
sorrow that the Empress wrote to Queen Victoria on 
June 3, 1890 : 

The town of Berlin wished, as you know, to erect a monument 
to our beloved Fritz ; it is the first time they have done so for 
one of their sovereigns ! They have the money already! They in- 
formed me of this and I told them how much it touched me, and how 
this token of loyal affection would have touched him much more 
than a monument ordered, executed and paid for by the govern- 
ment They sent in their plans and have been waiting over four 
months for an answer, and now William has refused to grant them 
the permission and says that the state will do it! This pains me 
very much indeed, as such a spontaneous demonstration of respect 
to Fritz's memory is a very different thing from a state order, 
which is just as one would order a bridge, or new barracks, and it 
ought to have been gratefully and graciously accepted. He might 
also have asked me, or let me know, or have consulted me! The 
town of Berlin said the monument should be made according to 
my wishes. Now, of course, all is spoilt! William ignores my 
existence in everything. 

Queen Victoria's answer was to invite her daughter 

to England, and to point out that as Berlin was already 

2E 417 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1890 erecting a hospital in memory of the Emperor Frederick 
a second monument was perhaps superfluous. To this 
the Empress Frederick replied on June 13, 1890 : 

So many thanks for your dear letter by messenger, which I 
will answer today, as we leave tonight and I fear I shall have no 
time to write tomorrow. What day may we arrive in England ? 
The 28th ? You return from Balmoral on the 2<$th, I believe ? . . . 

I think you misunderstood me about the monument for my 
beloved Fritz. The town of Berlin gave a sum of money on 
October i8th, 1888, to found an institution which was to bear his 
name. I gave it to die children's hospital which is now being built. 
This was a different thing! This was to be a large equestrian statue! 
The State has ordered one of the Emperor William, and the town 
of Berlin voted the money already last year to erect one to Fritz. 
They had to ask leave and they did not wait a few months, as I 
said last time, but a whole year for the answer, which has now 
been given in the shape of a refusal, after I had told them how 
pleased and grateful I was at the idea. That I should feel hurt 
and aggrieved, you cannot wonder, as it again appears as if W. 
did not wish historical evidence of Fritz's popularity to go down 
to posterity. As history books for all the schools in Prussia are 
arranged by the Ministerium, his life, his character, his views and 
short reign can be made as little of as is thought advisable, and all 
can be coloured as the present Government please! as they did 
about his illness and his Diary, whereas I should like the truth 
known and justice done to him and his friends, which implies its 
being done indirecdy to me also. If the Government wish to 
erect a monument themselves they might have done so and yet 
have allowed the town to carry out its intentions. I call it most 
autocratic and calculated only to annoy. La raison du plus fort 
est toujours la meilleure and it is quite curious to see how all W. 
does meets with approval in England ; a glance at the Times 
shows this, and it is not surprising that he should therefore think 
himself infallible and his conduct towards his father and mother 
without fault; he does not see how he abuses the power so 
prematurely put into his hands. 

The Empress's dissatisfaction with the way in which 
she had been relegated to the background is further evi- 
418 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

denced in her letter to Queen Victoria of December 13, 1890 
1890: 

Many thanks too for the paper about Greece, which I return, 
having read it with much interest. You say that for the first time 
[ have written to you on a political matter since 1888. It does 
indeed seem strange to me that now I am 50 I am completely 
cast off from the official world not a single official person ever 
comes near me and what used to be mem tdgliches Brod has quite 
ceased. How I used to work for Fritz and how he used to tell 
me everything ! Now I might be buried alive, for, of course, no 
one comes near me. As matters are, it is far better so, as one 
would not like to be responsible for even the smallest unfortunate 
result. All the more, I can look about and study and pick up 
information on different subjects, and my former friends not in 
official positions are far more outspoken now than they used to 
be. I do not run after the official world on the contrary I avoid 
them ; I am too proud to ask any questions if I am not told 
things or asked my opinion. 

Influence on the course of events I have not the smallest, or 
faintest, but as a member of the thinking public I do not stand 
alone and have many who care to exchange opinions with me. At 
home I used to follow with such interest all in which dear Papa 
and you were concerned. There was a time when the Emperor 
William and the Empress Augusta used to talk over everything 
with us. Now that my experience is perhaps worth something, 
there is a dead silence and one's existence is forgotten. 

I have not the faintest ambition to play un rSle in the 
present regime, indeed I should scorn to do so after all that has 
happened, but it is impossible to lose one's interest in the affairs 
of this country, and in the course of peace and progress in the rest 
of the world. When I go to Italy or to Greece, it is a pleasure 
to talk with King Umberto and with Willy of Greece. I do not 
speak of home, as of course what goes on there I watch with the 
same affectionate interest as since I was a child. 

For the first time in two years the Empress now 
expressed her point of view on a question of foreign 
policy. Apart from Germany, England and Russia, the 
two countries in which she had been most interested 

419 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1890 during the preceding lustrum had been Bulgaria and 
Greece. In Bulgaria after the abdication of her protege, 
Prince Alexander, Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha had 
ascended the throne, and in spite of plots and intrigues 
was gradually consolidating his position. 

In Greece the Empress Frederick's interest had been 
quickened by the marriage of her daughter Sophie to the 
Duke of Sparta. The province of Macedonia, still under 
Turkish rule, was seething with unrest, and both Bulgaria 
and Greece cast covetous eyes on the land of Macedon. 
To her letter of December 13, 1890, the Empress added 
the comments : 

With regard to Greece, I should like to add one word. The 
most dangerous and ticklish question for peace is in the East and 
the one that is always turning up again is the Macedonian question. 
Both Bulgaria and Greece will never resign a claim to a portion 
of this country, and never be friends until this is once settled and 
arranged. Once Sandro had made a most excellent plan of how 
both could be contented in the event of this province being lost to 
Turkey. I often wonder whether England, Austria, Germany and 
Italy could not try to arrange the Macedonian difficulty peaceably 
for these smaller powers and thus do away with a dangerous apple 
of discord which may set the East at odds at any moment, and give 
the Russians the much-desired opportunity for interfering. 

I saw a friend of mine the other day who is on the Committee 
for the Anatolian Railways at Constantinople, and he told me he 
thought the Bulgarians the most promising of all the Balkan 
nationalities and thought the State was capable of greatly develop- 
ing and having a very good future before it it had made great 
strides and it owed everything to Sandro. 

The attitude of her son still caused the Empress bitter 
heartburnings, especially when his arrogant conduct was 
extended to his sister Sophie, the Duchess of Sparta, who 
had been on a visit to Berlin to discuss her conversion to 
the Greek Church a project that the Emperor strongly 
420 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

opposed, going so far as to say she would never be 1890 
allowed to visit Germany again. On December 27, 1890, 
the Empress wrote : 

Yesterday evening a messenger arrived, who leaves again today 
at two, and brought me your dear letter, for which many affectionate 
thanks. I thought it was impossible that we should not think alike 
on this subject. I hope too that it will blow over when W. has 
been made to see that he cannot carry out threats of the kind if 
they are ever so solemnly made (as these were) without conse- 
quences which must destroy the peace of the family for ever and 
show him in the light of a tyrant and bully, which I think, in spite 
of his love of showing his power and authority, he would not like. 
That such heartlessness and Rucksichtsloslgkeit have left a deep 
impression on me you cannot wonder, as it has again revealed to 
me the spirit in which I have been treated these three years, when I 
was striving to dwell as little as possible on his conduct, hoping that 
it would improve. Peace is the only thing I hope for. Gratitude, 
affection, confidence, sympathy, I shall never get from that quarter. 
They do not understand me they did not understand their dear 
father. They do not want me they are full of suspicion against 
me, though they might know that I interfere in nothing and am far 
too proud to do so. These sentiments burst out on the smallest 
provocation, and as it is impossible for me to know and guess 
who it is who perpetually is trying to repeat gossip to W. and 
tell him things to irritate him against me, though I know it is the 
interest of many, I shall always be exposed to this sort of thing. 
But I feel his rudeness and undutiful conduct to me far less than 
I do his rudeness to his sister, who has gone away most deeply 
disgusted and hurt. He has no heart and Dona has no tact, and 
they are both so convinced of their own perfection that they will 
ran with their heads against a wall some day in all naivete. 

The best course now and the one I shall certainly adopt is to 
drop the matter altogether. What the King of Greece will do or 
write, of course, I do not know. 

In the preceding month a fourth son had been born 
to William II., which led the Empress Frederick to com- 
ment: 

421 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

I also think a daughter would have been an advantage and 
I asked W. whether he would not have liked a daughter. He 
answered " Girls were useless creatures, he did not want one and 
far preferred to be without ". For him I daresay boys (Recruits) 
to be ordered about are far more to his taste but some day to pro- 
vide them all with means and with homes will be no easy task. . . . 

The year 1891 opened for the Empress Frederick 
without any indication that life was likely to be smoother 
for her. She had now passed her fiftieth year, and, as 
many observers noted, was growing more and more like 
her mother, the septuagenarian Queen Victoria. On 
February 22, 1891, the Empress wrote to her mother : 

I get told here very often Comme vous ressemble & ^ a Rzw>& 
d'Angleterre and I always answer Cela nest pas flatteur pour ma 
rnere^ je voudrau ha. ressembler, ce qui la rappelk c'est mon deuil, 
qui est Mas h meme quelle pone dspids 2$ ans. 

You say that I have not inherited from you the love of look- 
ing about at things, but I have a special reason. First of all you 
always live amongst beautiful things, therefore you do not feel the 
want so much d& vous meulhr la the, as I do, who do not live in 
so interesting a milieu. Then you never had the time or oppor- 
tunity to make art a special study, and lastly you can get every- 
thing arranged for you, whereas I must direct the arrangements of 
my house and myself, and choose and collect every single thing, 
and cannot leave it to other people. There are but few at Berlin 
who quite share and understand my taste, while in London and 
at Paris there are hundreds, and a great many in Italy. In Germany 
there are very few real amateurs and collectors, and this taste is 
nearly confined to the Artists and Professors. But the interest has 
greatly developed in Germany during the last twenty years^ and the 
Exhibitions do a great deal of good. 

The Empress's life of quiet routine at Cronberg was, 
however, now interrupted by one last active participation 
in an affair of diplomatic importance. It was at the re- 
quest of her son, the German Emperor, that in the early 
part of 1891 the Empress paid a semi-official visit to 
422 



CAPRIVI'S CHANCELLORSHIP 

Paris. The Emperor was at this time desirous of testing 1891 
the real feeling of the Parisian populace towards Ger- 
many, and thought that the best means would be a visit 
by a near relative. The Empress Frederick had paid 
several visits incognito to Paris since the conclusion of 
the Franco-German War, and on each occasion had been 
well received ; there was therefore some reason for the 
assumption that she would be the most likely member of 
the German imperial family to sow the seed of a rap- 
prochement between the Empire and the neighbouring 
Republic. 

Accordingly, on February 19, 1891, the Empress, 
accompanied by her daughter Princess Margaret and a 
considerable suite, arrived in Paris. That day an official 
communique was issued to point out that the Empress was 
visiting Paris to thank those artists who had promised 
to exhibit pictures at the forthcoming art exhibition in 
Berlin, of which she was patron. The first three or four 
days in Paris passed off well. The Empress visited a large 
number of studios and picture galleries as well as one or 
two of the curiosity shops for which Paris is famous. 

The German press, however, now began to hint that 
the visit was a move towards a reconciliation between the 
two countries a hint that aroused the Boulangist party 
and caused somewhat inflammatory speeches to be de- 
livered in Paris. This spark was fanned into flame when 
a day or two later it became known that the Empress 
had visited the Palace at Saint Cloud (which had been 
destroyed by the Germans in 1870) as well as Versailles 
(where her husband had been stationed) and the neigh- 
bouring battlefields. Memories of L* Annie Terrible now 
surged back, and when it became known that a laurel 
wreath placed at the foot of the monument to Henri 

423 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1891 Regnault, the celebrated French painter, who had been 
killed in the last desperate sortie from Paris, had been 
removed on the occasion of the visit of the Empress to 
the Ministry of Fine Arts, all attempts at politeness and 
courtesy were abandoned. Passions now blazed up to 
fever point The French press thundered against these 
"Insultes aux Franfais ", and the Empress, avoiding the 
tempest, left hurriedly for London. 

But the storm did not abate with her departure. The 
French artists now withdrew their promises to exhibit at 
Berlin, and the Berlin press retaliated with uncontrolled 
abuse of their Gallic neighbours. 

This was the last intervention of the Empress Fred- 
erick in public affairs, and for months the consequences 
of it caused her the deepest distress and mortifica- 
tion. On March 29, while still at Sandringham staying 
with her brother, the Prince of Wales, she wrote to her 
mother : 

I sdll continue to be much tormented about all the reports 
circulated at Berlin purporting to come from Paris and to be 
written by people of the Diplomatic Corps and notables from 
Paris such lies. It seems at first they feared in Berlin that Count 
Miinster (the German Ambassador in Paris) had not quite under- 
stood the situation, but they are now satisfied on this score and 
all the blame is laid on my entourage. Really it is too bad. 

I had insisted on going to see the French artists in spite of the 
warning and entreaties of " the people whose business it was to 
keep up the bonne entente between France and Germany ". This 
is a wilful distortion of facts. Count Miinster told me to go 
to Bouguerau and to Detaille, which I did. Emile Wauters, 
Madrazo and Munkaczy are not Frenchmen, but a Belgian, who 
wears the German Pour le Merite, a Spaniard and an Austrian. 
Messrs. Lefebvre and Galland are Frenchmen the latter I have 
known for years and have often visited, though Munster has never 
heard his name. . . . 
424 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

Other crimes are that I went into shops and bought nothing. 1891 
This is not true ; I went into two jewellers' shops people who 
had worked for me and whose bills had just been paid. I am 
supposed to have gone to all sorts of Jewish collectors. I went to 
see the great Spitzer collection, and he certainly was a Jew when 
he was alive. ... It has annoyed me horribly. ... I think at 
50 and after having seen so much of the world I might be credited 
with enough tact not to make a fool of myself as they represent 
me to have done. . . . 

A few days later, on April 3, she wrote from Bucking- 
ham Palace : 

. . . Hatzfeldt is also much annoyed about the nonsense they 
believe at Berlin about my visit (to Paris) and that my entourage 
are blamed for the impression my visit is supposed to have made, 
which in reality it did not, but only was described by the bad 
press as having done so. I hope we shall hear no more about it. 
But I did not cut the Russian Ambassador, nor would I have 
dreamt of doing such a thing. . . . 

Gradually the storm died down, and the Empress 
resumed her interest in matters of artistic interest. Two 
such examples of her devotion to art may be mentioned. 
In her letter to Queen Victoria of April 2, 1891, after a 
visit to the National Gallery in London, she wrote to her 
mother : 

... I went today to see the National Gallery and admired 
all its glories again. It is the best chosen, the best lit and arranged 
collection of fine pictures in the world, and that is saying a great 
deal. Of course the gallery is not a large one, but I think one 
enjoys it all the more, whereas the Louvre is quite overwhelming. 

This afternoon I went to Mr. Alma Tadema's studio. His 
whole house is a work of art imagined, planned, and arranged 
by him and the scene from which his lovely pictures are taken. . . . 

Four months later the Empress, who had now re- 
turned to Germany, wrote to her mother a letter in which 
is given her opinion of the " Marseillaise ". 

425 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1891 T am very sorry [she wrote on August 26, 1891, with reference 
to the visit of the French fleet to Portsmouth, when the officers 
dined with Queen Victoria at Osborne] that the horrid Marseillaise 
should now be the French Anthem, associated as it is with the 
horrors of the Revolution and used by the Socialists as the symbol 
of violence and all their mad Labour principles. A respectable 
Government, such as a peace- and order-loving Republic ought to 
be, does not choose a melody to which any such stain is attached as 
" Aux armes citoyens, Forme% vos BataiUojis, Marckons, Marchons, 
quun sang impur^ etc. (which meant the blood of kings, aristocrats 
and priests and now means that of capitalists, bourgeois and Jews). 
Tremble^, tyrans et vous perfides, L*opprobre de tons les partis; 
Tremble^, vos projets parricides Vont enfin recevoir lew prix. Tout 
est soldat pour vous combattre" etc., etc. 

I must say I felt sorry that you should have to get up to such 
strains as that, though you had no other way of doing the French 
honour and most people forget the words of that savage song and 
the occasions on which it was used, and what wretches sang it. . , . 

The Empress's relations with Bismarck after the 
Chancellor's fall now began to assume a mellowness and 
sympathy which had never been known during his term 
of office. A slight indication of these changed relations 
may be gathered from a reported conversation between 
Busch and Bismarck about this period. 

I took the liberty [Busch records] to ask further what sort 
of woman the Crown Princess was, and whether she had much 
influence over her husband. " I think not", the Count said ; "and 
as to her intelligence, she is a clever woman ; clever in a womanly 
way. She is not able to disguise her feelings, or at least not always. 
I have cost her many tears, and she could not conceal how angry 
she was with me after the annexations (that is to say of Schleswig 
and Hanover). She could hardly bear the sight of me, but that 
feeling has now somewhat subsided. She once asked me to bring 
her a glass of water, and as I handed it to her she said to a lady-in- 
waiting who sat near and whose name I forget, * He has cost me as 
many tears as there is water in this glass '. But that is all over now.*' 
426 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

This incident about the glass of water evidently much 1891 
impressed Bismarck, for he told it to Busch again some 
months later, when he said of the Crown Princess, " She 
is in general a very clever person, and really agreeable in 
her way, but she should not interfere in politics ". 

The Empress for her part watched with interest Bis- 
marck's activities, and on January 6, 1891, she wrote to 
Queen Victoria : 

... I have just seen some people who have been staying with 
Prince Bismarck, and they say he never was so well and strong 
and active, and is very cheerful and in good spirits, but that his 
relations with his son Herbert are not nearly so confidential, 
affectionate or intimate as they were, and a certain coldness has set 
in. Bismarck is working hard at his Memoirs, I have no doubt 
they will be strange and piquant. . . . 

In the remaining nine years of the Empress's life the 
Empress never interfered in political matters, and her 
letters for this period are mainly full of domestic or family 
details. She did not, however, lose her interest in her 
eldest son's actions and speeches, and it was with a keenly 
critical eye that she read his orations in the columns of 
the German press. Whilst refraining from any public 
comment upon his oratorical efforts, tactful or otherwise, 
she was, in correspondence with her mother, frank in 
criticism of her son's many official utterances. One such 
speech he delivered at Erfurt in September 1891 on 
the eve of the meeting of the Socialist congress at that 
town. 

The speech at Erfurt [she wrote] was another of those un- 
fortunate imprudences of William these are daily specimens. 
Caprivi cannot prevent them. William neither understands or 
values advice, he neither asks nor takes it, and as he is in many 
ways very green for his age, constant blunders and kfoues are the 

427 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1891 result. Ick dulde kemen neben mir. Jeder der gegen mich 1st, werde 
ich lersckmettern. 1 

He is so vain, and all the flattery has made him so conceited 
that he delights in making speeches on all occasions, and they 
are usually very malapropos and have to be corrected and arranged 
afterwards so that they should not make too startling an impression. 
One is inclined to smile if it were not so serious and so dangerous. 
Fritz was so prudent and careful and wrote out his speeches before 
and changed them over and over again. Emperor "William L was 
not very happy in his speeches but they were rare. His letters 
as you know were funnily blunt and the tournure de phrase not 
very happy, so that they often offended people very much, which 
he did not at all intend, as he was so very civil and courteous and 
meant to be kind although a military despot, and he was such a 
gentleman and grand seigneur. His great age and prestige made 
people take differently what, coming from a young man, who has 
not done anything particular in the world to boast of, sounds 
differently. His way of speaking of Napoleon, though he was cer- 
tainly wfleau, I thought most unbecoming, for he was a great 
historical personage and soldier and a vanquished foe, and after 
1870-71 it does not seem necessary to say another word; but as 
you will perceive by this little newspaper cutting this speechify- 
ing is encouraged by a certain silly party who find it quite to their 
taste, though it offends that of all more cultivated people. 

The Emperor William, however, did not confine his 
remarkable statements to the spoken word, and on the 
occasion of his visit to Munich in November gave evi- 
dence of his Caesarian ambitions when he wrote in the 
book at the Town Hall the classical tag : 

Suprema Lex Regis Voluntas. 2 

All parties without exception were offended by the 
Emperor's phrase, and the opinion of the Empress co- 

1 I suffer no one near me. Everyone who is against me I will 
crush. 

2 Literally : The will of the king is the highest law. 
428 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

incided with the opinion of the majority of Germans 1891 
when she wrote to her mother on November 15, 1891 : 

... I was distressed at what W. wrote in the book at this 
Town Hall at Munich : 

Suprema Lex 
Regis Voluntas. 

I think he can hardly understand what a levue he is making when 
he writes such a thing. A Czar, an infallible Pope the Bourbons 
and our poor Charles I. might have written such a sentence, 
but a constitutional Monarch in the i9th century!!! So young a 
man the son of his father and your grandson not to speak 
of a child of mine should neither have nor express such a maxim. 
... I can say nothing, give no advice. I am usually completely 
ignored. 1 

Another provocative speech was made by the Emperor 
William six weeks later, when addressing some new re- 
cruits for the German army. At this period a certain 
section in the German political world was working hard 
for a rapprochement between the Emperor and Prince 
Bismarck, and it was to this speech and to these en- 

1 For an interesting explanation of this incident see Sir Rennell 
Rodd's Social and Diplomatic Memories, pp. 267-268, where he re- 
lates that " there were two registers at Munich in which eminent 
visitors were invited to inscribe their names. The Emperor had 
already done so in the album presented to him. It was then dis- 
covered that a mistake had been made and that so august an auto- 
graph should have been recorded in the Golden Book. The Regent 
(of Bavaria), however, expressed the opinion that his imperial guest 
must not be further importuned, and informing him that he had 
done so, begged that his decision should be respected. Neverthe- 
less, in spite of the Regent's wishes, the book reserved for more 
important autographs was submitted, and then it was that the 
Emperor, intending to signify that the Regent's will must be his 
law, wrote in it instead of his name the much-discussed sentence. 
The explanation appears plausible, but it does not enhance the 
Emperor's reputation for discretion.*' 

429 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1891 deavours that the Empress alluded in her letter to Queen 
Victoria of December 5, 1891 : 

... I don't think the state of things very satisfactory here. 
W. has, alas, made a terrible new speech to the recruits which is 
very freely criticised, and the party that wish a reconciliation with 
Prince Bismarck are working very hard. I was even asked whether 
I would not try to use influence to bring this about, but as you 
may imagine I answered that I had no influence whatever, and 
would never allude to the subject. 

There is great poverty, and the working classes have lost a good 
deal of money and very little business is done. There is just a 
quiet confidence in Caprivi's honesty and steadiness and modera- 
tion, but Miguel has done his best to undermine him. I do not 
think he will succeed. The principal cause of uneasiness and in- 
security as to foreign affairs is the fear that Mr. Gladstone will 
have " a turn " again before long and that the Russians and French 
will take the opportunity of making war, as it is assumed that 
England would not join the Triple Alliance and allow Russia to 
do what she pleased both in the East and in Europe and France 
what she liked in Egypt. 

W. is not at all popular. Every question has been taken up 
and then dropped again, and a deal of irritation caused and nothing 
of consequence done or reformed. The public utterances are much 
criticised and the expense of the Army increases tremendously. 
Still all this would smooth and calm down and settle itself, if 
only wiser and steadier and more experienced men were listened 
to. ... 

Further endeavours were now made to effect a recon- 
ciliation between the Emperor and Bismarck, and on 
December 12, 1891, the Empress Frederick wrote to 
Queen Victoria : 

. . . Politics are in a queer state. Caprivi has done excellently 
well and has defended his commercial treaties valiantly ; but the 
agitation on the pari of the Conservatives and Bismarckites to 
bring Prince B. back is very strong. They want his influence to 
be all powerful again, even if he does not take office. First they 
want to obtain a complete reconciliation with W. I have even 
430 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

been spoken to and asked whether I would not try to influence "W. 1891 
in that direction. You may imagine how I laughed. The very 
people who for years laboured and intrigued to destroy my 
influence and that of Fritz now would wish me to help to patch 
things up with Prince B. I told them plainly that I had not the 
faintest influence over the son whom their wickedness had turned 
against his parents, nor his affairs they have what they wanted, 
to all intents and purposes I am dead and gone. I shall never seek 
to have any influence. My opinion can always be had for the 
asking unasked I shall never give it. I should consider it very 
dangerous for the country and the monarchy to let Prince B. have 
anything more to say. That later on, W. should be on a footing 
of courtesy and civility with him and that he should be received 
at Berlin I should consider both dignified and proper and good 
policy, but nothing more. 

It may interest you to know that it is Kessel who is the person 
used to try and influence W. towards a reconciliation, and sly as he 
is, he is hard at work to effectuate this. 

You may be sure I shall not open my mouth. May they all 
reap the harvest of their bad deeds. If I had a shadow of influence 
I should implore W. to make no speeches in public, for they are 
too terrible, and not to write into books and under photos any 
more it makes one's hair stand on end. Here in Berlin people 
are becoming accustomed to these very strange utterances and think 
it a peculiar style to which it is well not to attach too great import- 
ance it is put down to ignorance and childish impetuosity, and 
some of the best newspapers mildly criticise, remonstrate and 
advise. I send you here a specimen which is very good. I fear, 
however, it does not make the slightest effect. Oh, how different 
all might be if that vile party, who brought on 1848 and drove 
F. W. IV. off his head, terrorised my father-in-law and formed 
the bodyguard of Bismarckism broke Fritz's heart and destroyed 
all the work of our lives took entire possession of our son, 
knocked me and all our friends down did not exist. Bismarck, 
their stronghold, is gone, but they remain, and until the baneful 
work they have been at for so many years is stopped, of course, 
there never can be harmony or understanding between "W. and me, 
nor can he have any knowledge of his father's opinion, or any 
confidence in his mother though there may be peace and a more 
comfortable feeling of outward intercourse. Herbert Bismarck said 

431 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1891 three months before he left, to a friend of his whom he knew : 
" Die, Kluft *wischen den Kaiser und seine Mutter muss eine voll- 
stdndige werden., die nicht wieder %u beseitigen 1st." l 

I must wait quietly perhaps I shall die before justice and 
truth have their day, but die people who are around him are not 
my friends, and have no wish that he should return to me. My 
keeping so completely aloof from everything ought to prove to 
them how needless it is for them to take such pains to keep me 
away* For me patience is the best, but it is patience without 
hope. . . . 

The speeches of the Emperor William did not gain in 

1892 prudence as the months went by. In February 1892, on 
the occasion of a parliamentary dinner, he gave further 
proof of his animosity to those whom he considered to 
be his enemies, and on February 16 the Empress wrote 
from Berlin to Queen Victoria : 

The Government here and W. are playing a most dangerous 
game it seems to me from sheer ignorance of the importance of 
die question they have dealt with so lightly. I am afraid "W. makes 
the most imprudent speeches at these parliamentary dinners (after 
dinner). Here am I condemned to sit and look on in silence 
without being able to say one word in warning and knowing that 
the hideous mistakes made may lead to terrible consequences. 
After having for more than thirty years been so nearly connected 
with all that was going on, and collected knowledge and experience 
of people and things, I now watch as from a grave more than 
useless and forgotten the reckless course pursued by my own son. 
The other members of the family do not seem to see or to care 
no one sensible has any influence no one about him warns or 
gives advice. The worst of it is that we shall perhaps all have to 
pay for his ignorance and imprudence. Of course, far away in 
England you see and hear nothing of all this. 

Dona's people are exceedingly active and make her take part 
in all sorts of charities and undertakings of many kinds, but only 
from an orthodox Low Church and Conservative point of view. 

1 The gulf between the Emperor and his mother is bound to 
become complete, and can never be bridged over. 

432 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

We never talk on these subjects, indeed between the Schloss and 1892 
me there is no intercourse whatever. We are on a friendly footing 
whenever we meet, which is very rare. It needs an unusual amount 
of philosophy to accept a situation of so much bitterness and dis- 
appointment without murmuring. I should never come here any 
more if it were not my duty, and if there were not things which I 
cannot and must not and will not abandon and where some good 
still can be done. It is beloved Fritz's homeland we still have friends 
I stick to, but with the whole present regime I have absolutely 
nothing to do. 

A week later the Emperor William made another 
speech, this time at Brandenburg, in which he severely 
censured the opponents of his political policy, styling 
them " grumblers ". The speech made a sensation not 
only in Germany but also in England, where The Times 
commented unfavourably upon it in a strong leading 
article. The reproduction of this article in several Berlin 
newspapers led to their confiscation by the German 
Government, and it became more and more evident that 
the Emperor, whilst making the most ill-advised state- 
ments himself, was determined to allow no one in Ger- 
many to criticise the Imperial utterances. 

Meanwhile, the distress in Berlin, Hanover and 
Dantzig, due to trade depression, brought in its train 
much rioting and disturbance, and it was to these 
subjects that the Empress alluded in her letter to Queen 
Victoria of February 27, 1892 : 

I send you some really good extracts from Papers of my way 
of thinking about those horrid riots of the day before yesterday 
and yesterday. It seems all quiet again now, I am happy to say. 
These things will happen now and then, but are more dangerous 
in Germany than anywhere. I also send an extract about my poor 
W.'s ill-inspired Speech. 

I really feel like an old hen that has hatched a duckling instead 

of a chicken and sees it swimming away. Only ducks know how 

2F 433 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1892 to swim and the poor hen's anxiety is needless, whereas here it 
seems to me that he " rushes in where Angels fear to tread ". I 
wish I could put a padlock on his mouth for all occasions where 
speeches are made in public. It is no use to say anything the 
Bismarck education and the school of the Emperor William's 
entourage have made him what he is, and their teaching brings on 
these results his dear father and I are in no way responsible for 
his extraordinary ideas. We were for constitutional liberty, for 
quiet steady progress for an unobtrusive but unobstructed evolu- 
tion for individualism and the development of culture, not for 
Imperialism, Caesarism, State Socialism, etc. We were Whigs of 
the old school, but the modern most unphilosophical sort of Tory 
Democrat is an abomination to me a cajoling of errors and 
coquetting with mistaken ideas only for the sake of gaining more 
power, whereas I am for liberty of opinion and individual inde- 
pendence of which poor Germany has had so little. Les ex- 
trtmes se touckent where there is absolutism, and where the State 
is everything there is sure to be Socialism. I wish to see the public 
at large working for the relief of the poor and the unemployed ; 
charity might be still more liberal in Germany, more general and 
better organised. But charity is crippled, and self-help and organisa- 
tion cannot be learnt when the State alone insists on doing every- 
thing and others sit and look on. 

Two days later, in the course of a letter to her mother 
expressing her sympathy at the death of Prince Albert 
Victor, Duke of Clarence, the eldest son of the Prince of 
Wales, the Empress again made reference to the male- 
volent influences of the clique into which her son the 
Emperor William had fallen. 

I am sorely tried too; though I have, thank God, not lost 
my eldest son, he is a source of constant anxiety to me. The 
pernicious influence of the Bismarcks of certain military circles 
and Junkers have so filled his head with ideas which I consider 
most false and dangerous and which he takes up with the convic- 
tion and ncxvete of ignorance and inexperience there is no one 
there to advise or counteract the baneful turn given to his opinions. 
What will it come to ? He was snatched out of our hands all 

434 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

our wise friends were put to silence. Alas, my poor parents-in-law 1892 
rather lent themselves to this system of playing him off against 
us. You remember how I used to complain of the poor Empress 
Augusta flattering him, etc. She did all for the best, I am sure, 
but she did him a deal of harm. I assure you I tremble for him 
with all his rashness and obstinacy, etc., he is a big baby. Henry 
and Bernhard understand politics no better than he does. Some 
of his Aides-de-Camp were beside themselves with enthusiasm 
about this speech, which quite brought the perspiration to my 
forehead when I read it. The speech was, alas, no ebullition of the 
moment he had written it all down before and took it with him and 
made Oberprasident von Achenbach prompt him. I should have 
refused and told him that such a speech was impossible. After- 
wards the Ministers tried to weed out all the expressions which were 
a great deal stronger still, therefore the Staatsan%eiger, in which it was 
printed in its present form, appeared three hours later than usual. 

Tonight "W. presides at a banquet of students of the Borussian 
Corps at the Hotel Kaiserhof a thing which in my opinion is not 
the right thing for a Sovereign to do still I trust he will be more 
prudent in his utterances. It is too despairing to see people rushing 
headlong into mistakes and on quite a wrong track and not to be 
able to stop them. All those who are blind enough to hate Con- 
stitutional liberty admire and applaud him and all the orthodox set. 
Why is it they do not see that they are playing the game of Socialism 
as Prince Bismarck was ? I so seldom see Sir E. Malet that I do 
not know what he thinks of all this, and he is so prudent a man 
that he would not say to me what he thought* 

It was, of course, inevitable that some of the public 
criticisms levelled against the speeches of the Emperor 
should come to his ears, and the effect of these comments 
upon him is indicated in the Empress's letter to her 
mother, dated March 21, 1892 : 

I think that he was very furious at some of the criticisms on his 
speech. He will not admit that the speech was a mistake in any 
way and thinks the criticisms all pure spite and wickedness, but 
some that were shown him have annoyed him, which everybody 
is thankful for, as heretofore they have made no impression what- 
ever and it is hoped this may stagger him a little and make him 

435 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1892 a little more prudent and careful. I myself do not think so he 
is so imbued with false ideas that it would want a constant and 
daily and powerful influence to open his eyes, explain things in 
their true light. He does not understand what a Constitution is. 
He does not know a single member of the Liberal party he never 
reads one of the really good sensible newspapers. If he only had 
the same political instinct that dear Louis had, and that I believe 
and hope Ernie will have. None of my children care for politics, 
or understand them, Le. t for the development of a wise and en- 
lightened progress. I think that it was wished that William should 
be away on the i8th March, which was a very good thing, as it was 
not certain whether we should not have some rows in the streets 
again. The Education Bill has been thrown out and Ct. Zedlitz 
has resigned. Everyone is very glad and I think there will be a 
universal sense of relief. Caprivi has tendered his resignation, but 
I do not suppose it will be accepted. I should be sorry for many 
reasons if he went. He is certainly not a statesman, but he is so 
honest and well-meaning and conscientious and a safe man. . . . 

As the year 1892 progressed, it became evident that 
tremendous efforts were being made to secure a recon- 
ciliation between the Emperor William and Prince Bis- 
marck* The Empress regarded any such reconciliation 
with alarm, and her reasons are clearly given in her letter 
to Queen Victoria of June 4, 1892 : 

I suppose you have heard of all the efforts that are being made 
to bring about a reconciliation between Bismarck and "W. I con- 
sider the thing dangerous in many ways. It would take too long to 
explain it all, but W. will soon be quite in the hands of the Ost- 
Preussische clique and that of the industrials, such as Stumm. 

The latter was employed in sounding the terrain to see whether 
Bismarck would go and see W. on his way to Kiel to meet the 
Emperor of Russia, and whether, therefore, W/s train should 
stop at Friedrichsruh. If it were only a mere act of courtesy and 
civility it would not matter, but the industrials want to have an 
influence on politics, especially in the sense of protectionism. 
I fear, if they succeed, that Caprivi would leave directly, which 
would be a very great pity for many reasons. The Minister of the 
436 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

Interior, Herfurt, is a useful man, the only clever head in the 1892 
Ministry thus Eulenburg and the Conservatives are trying hard 
to get rid of him. There is no stability anywhere. . . . 

In the following months it became evident that there 
was little hope of any reconciliation between Prince Bis- 
marck and the German Emperor, and the attitude of the 
ex-Chancellor to his former master now began to peep 
forth in the severe strictures which he passed upon the 
Emperor's policy at home and abroad. It was very evi- 
dent that the breach between the two men, instead of 
narrowing, was becoming wider and wider. 

During the summer months of 1892 there occurred in 
England a change of ministry. The general elections of 
June and July had resulted in the return of Mr. Gladstone 
to power for the fourth time. The election had been 
fought primarily upon the issue of Home Rule for Ireland, 
a legislative and constitutional issue upon which Lord 
Rosebery, who was now appointed Foreign Secretary in 
Mr. Gladstone's ministry, was not in the fullest agree- 
ment with his leader. It was to these events that the 
Empress Frederick alluded in her letter to Queen Victoria 
of August 1 6, 1892: 

... I was so much relieved to hear that Lord Rosebery had 
accepted the post of Foreign Secretary, as, though his non-accept- 
ance would have been a blow and a spoke in the wheel to the 
Gladstonians, yet, even in a short while, without Lord Rosebery 
at the Foreign Office irreparable harm might have been done and 
mischief wrought beyond undoing. I felt very unhappy and uneasy 
for you in the first place and then for our dear country. To think 
that the greatest and most glorious Empire in the world, whose 
affairs were being managed (on the whole) as well and successfully 
and carefully as could be desired, should by a combination of cir- 
cumstances be plunged into indecision and uncertainty a troubled 
sea of fantastic and unreasonable experiments makes me frantic. 

437 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1892 I was most alarmed about Egypt. The folly of abandoning an 
undertaking on which so much blood and treasure, thought and 
labour have been spent, seems to me too grievous and, alas, danger- 
ous in every way. You know I am not chauvinistic, and " prestige " 
is often a very empty word, but in this case " prestige " is a power 
and a reality to be used for good. Why should we make room 
for the French, knowing that it would bring a train of calamities 
after it ? If we leave Egypt, we shall never have influence there 
again the next Army of occupation will be a French one. 

"We here in Germany know how the Russians are pushing for- 
ward towards the Indian frontier and moving up their forces and 
their material. Those who wish England well think that4o or 50,000 
men more are needed than we have now in India, and do not con- 
sider the number high. It is a small sacrifice compared with that we 
should have to make, if to reconquer part of the Indian Empire were 
necessary. It behoves us to be on the watch and not to part with 
anything which can strengthen ourarm whereas any weakness will 
only tempt our enemies to attack us. This is my firm conviction. 

When I heard that Lord Rosebery was gone to France and was 
not going to accept, I feared that he might have seen members of 
the French Government and have heard from them of promises 
made to France by Mr, Gladstone about Egypt The speech of 
Sir C. Dilke made me fear this. But on the other hand, if Mr. 
Gladstone is so utterly bent on taking office cofite gue cofoe, per- 
haps he will give way to Lord Rosebery and also make other 
concessions ? You have been through such difficult times often 
and everyone admires the way in which you take such things, and 
of this I always feel so proud. 

God forbid that the wretched Home Rule Bill be passed. Some 
say Mr. G. will try to abolish the House of Lords if they throw it 
out, but this is easier said than done. Others maintain he will 
make a batch of new Peers and so get the support he wants. Then 
again one hears he wants to abolish the " Commander-in-Chief " 
just as the Lord High Admiral was once abolished. But this is 
more political gossip and surmise than anything else. One thing 
I am certain of, the G.O.M., in spite of all his vagaries and vanity 
and fanaticism and power of thoroughly convincing himself that 
the course he means to adopt is the right one, is yet sincerely 
loyal to the Crown. I have often observed that, and it would be 
unjust not to admit it, or give him credit for the sincerity of 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

those sentiments, while one is obliged to think him dangerous as a 1892 
politician and cannot possibly agree with the programme he has 
so often announced and that many of his party will try and force 
him to keep to, which I cannot help thinking will soon by its utter 
impracticability end in a breakdown. 

Perhaps I ought not to speak so openly, now he is once in 
office and everyone must try to make the best of it and prevent 
mischief as much as possible. . . . Meanwhile the Conservatives 
will be very glad to have a rest. . . . 

Interest in Germany was now concentrated upon the 
army bills that were introduced by the Chancellor, 
General von Caprivi, in November 1892. These bills 
were designed to effect great increases in the strength of 
the army, and owing to the depressed state of trade in 
Germany were vigorously opposed in the Reichstag. On 
January 7, 1893, die Empress wrote to Queen Victoria : 1893 

I am afraid the situation here is not at all satisfactory. The 
Generals and military authorities are perfectly convinced that the 
army reform is absolutely necessary for our safety. I quite believe 
what they say and wish with all my heart they could obtain what 
they want. Alas, the government have gone to work in the most 
awkward way. Instead of slowly trying to prepare public opinion 
(especially convincing the Deputies) they came upon the nation 
with this immense demand for money at a time when all the sad 
consequences of the Bismarck regime are most felt. The depression 
of trade and the unsatisfactory state of agriculture, the ever in- 
creasing, now almost crushing burden of taxation, alas! W.'s great 
unpopularity and the general discontent make this Bill so distasteful 
to the people that I fear there is no chance of its being passed. A 
dissolution would make things worse and CaprivTs resignation 
would be a misfortune. This is all very sad, and I often feel very 
anxious. In these twenty-one years the Monarchical principle has 
suffered very much so many blunders have been made un- 
fortunate speeches so many people have been hurt and offended, 
etc. . . . that there is a very uncomfortable feeling abroad. Every 
party (the blindest Bismarckites excepted) is anxious to keep 
Caprivi, whose honesty and conscientiousness are so thoroughly 

439 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1893 appreciated after the long years of the Bismarck regime, but what 
is to be done ? Neither "W. nor Caprivi can quite understand or 
grasp the situation they have no political knowledge or experi- 
ence, and the former a great amount of prejudices, etc. ... the 
result of the entourage he has lived in. I wish with all my heart 
one could help him, but his whole education as regards politics 
serait d refaire and a totally different set of people ought to have 
access and things be explained thoroughly from the right point 
of view. All my anger and bitterness (for W. I have more than 
just cause) are turned into anxiety and concern and pity, but I am 
quite powerless to do even the smallest good and can only hope 
against hope that things may right themselves. 

The Empress's attention was now attracted to events 
in the Balkans. In Roumania the heir-presumptive. 
Prince Ferdinand, had, in 1888, become engaged to Mile. 
Vacaresco,amaid-of-honour to Queen Elizabeth (Carmen 
Sylva). Public disapproval of the match was, however, 
so pronounced that the engagement was broken off, and 
Queen Elizabeth left the country. Finally, in the June 
of 1892, Prince Ferdinand became engaged to Princess 
Marie of Edinburgh, and in the following February their 
marriage took place at Sigmaringen. 

Scarcely had Roumania settled down to its new Prin- 
cess than attention was directed to Servia, where the 
youthful Prince Alexander, on April 14, suddenly pro- 
claimed his majority, dismissed die Regents and their 
ministry, and appointed in their stead a radical ministry 
amid every sign of popular approval. 

At the same time that these events were attracting 
attention to the Balkans, the German Emperor was visit- 
ing Rome, where he had invited himself to the silver 
wedding of the King and Queen of Italy. 

Poor King of Italy [the Empress wrote to her mother on 
April 1 8] the visit will quite ruin him he has to pay all out of 
440 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

his own pocket, the Naval and Military Review into the bargain, 1893 
and it is to cost two million Lire. I live in dread of the Alliance 
being made so irksome that the poor Italians cannot keep it up. I 
wish William would see this. They are not at all pleased at Berlin 
at his going away now, when the "Militar Vorlage " has to be 
fought in the Reichstag. The Quirinal has to be arranged and the 
enormous Palace at Naples got ready. It is really not considerate 
to overwhelm the Italian Court with such a suite. I am quite 
distressed about it. 

It is quite true that the Roumanians do not want Elizabeth back, 
as they are terrified at her having been the tool of the Russians 
and a danger to Roumanian interests through these Vacarescos, 
SchefFer, and French people, but if she could once be brought to 
see and understand what it all was, there would be no danger 
any more and only advantage to everyone if she returned. Poor 
Princess Wied knows this all quite well and says she cannot blame 
the Roumanians. 

This coup d'etat of the Servian boy King seems also to be a 
Russian Coup and consequently rather to be regretted, though it 
may be good in other ways. The Queen was always a Russian 
tool, poor thing, and as King Milan is always in want of money, it 
is not impossible he may have become one too from this reason. 
It is not agreeable for Ferdinand of Bulgaria. I shall think of him 
so much tomorrow on his "Wedding Day. 

In the summer of 1893 the Empress paid a visit to her 
daughter, the Crown Princess of Greece, at Athens. It 
was from Athens that she wrote about this time to Baron 
von Reischach a letter which more than any other appears 
to embody her opinion of the current political situation 
in Germany. The general election of June 1893 had 
resulted in a small majority for the Government, which 
desired to carry out the policy of strengthening the army in 
spite of the opposition of the Socialists. The Empress was 
pleased at the Government victory, and the event gave 
her the opportunity of summarising the trend of political 
thought in Germany during the past decade. Naturally, 

441 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1893 her opinion of Bismarck, now mellowed and in better 
perspective, owing to the passing of years, comes into 
the letter, which ran : 

I fully agree with you regarding the elections, and do not incline 
to exaggerated pessimism. But it is a difficult matter to argue on 
such a theme, and especially in writing. My point of view and 
political creed differ widely from yours. All my experience, studies 
and observations have contributed to confirm my opinion. On one 
point, however, I think we entirely agree that is, in regard to 
the ideal we hold of our native country, in the burning wish to 
see it realised, which does not imply external power only, but 
internal soundness, intrinsic solidity and power, which means its 
inner worth. There are many things which still require to be 
shaped into proper and ordered form. Poor Germany has had an 
historical development which in some ways has fostered its great 
qualities, whereas it has tended to cripple others entirely. It is 
necessary to see below the surface, and to understand how judg- 
ment, restfulness, and political aptitude are lacking, and how 
natural this is, and also to what degree the individual lacks inde- 
pendence in his political thoughts, and for this reason is easily 
susceptible to doctoring. The wild and poisonous nonsense of 
Socialism, which is apt to take such a deceptive and seductive form, 
is composed of nothing but hollow phrases and forced deductions, 
and would never otherwise have enslaved such strong men. True 
and sensible freedom worthy of mankind, which makes human 
beings conservative in a good sense, has never been nursed or 
taught, nor has it been preached. The great man (Bismarck) who 
achieved such wonderful things had no grasp of this. But this 
alone could have stemmed the tide of lunacy called Socialism, for 
it taught men to think independently, and to recognise where the 
true interests and duties of the individual lay. That, however, did 
not suit the political machine, which was priding itself on creating 
things rapidly which from their nature should have been prepared 
slowly and from above, the growth of which would have matured 
of their own accord. Pray do not think that I wish to be unjust 
towards the Great Man. I do not wish either to underrate his 
achievements or to revile or criticise him ; he had colossal power 
and represented a potential lever ; he gave what he had to give. 
But the fact of his being what he was brought in its train more 
442 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

than one disadvantage alongside all the brilliant successes of his 1893 
career, which had attained such dizzy heights. I cannot help 
thinking that the Emperor Frederick's noble, straight and un- 
selfish nature would gradually, by systematic and cautious opposi- 
tion and purposeful and well-thought-out counteraction, have 
corrected these disadvantages, which he, as a tactful and quiet 
observer, had had ample time to recognise. I feel convinced that 
he would thus have finished and complemented Bismarck's great 
work. He alone might have brought this invaluable gift to his 
dearly beloved people. Now that he is lying in his grave, things 
will have to go their course and pass through difficult stages. 
Wisdom and experience may possibly have to be bought dearly. 
But I suppose that gradually things will evolve out of the chaos 
and excitement which seem to prevail nowadays. Germany has 
too many good brains and true hearts at its disposal, not to be 
able to work out its own salvation dispassionately and wisely. 
The excitement of victory is past, and its reaction of alarm and 
exaggerated pessimism will pass as well, and a more sensible frame 
of mind is bound to be developed out of this ferment, but in my 
opinion, this phase which we now have to pass through might 
have been spared the nation. There have always been great men, 
but not always Sovereigns, who had been trained, prepared and 
created for their posts like the one whom we shall always mourn. 
The nation will have to learn to rely on itself and do without such 
men. I feel convinced that it will be equal to its task, and that 
it is looking forward to a happy future. Maybe you will not 
agree with me on all these points. I do not wish to force my 
opinion on anybody, and do not often express it. And I find that 
very few people share it. It is the habit of men to consider as 
vain and impracticable a philosophic theory intended to keep hold 
of the sequence of historical events. I do not share this opinion. 
Unless a person has formed a clear idea of cause and effect, and of 
the consequences of certain principles, he lives from hand to mouth 
and not for the morrow, and in a continual state of vacillation. 
Prince Bismarck was a great opportunist, a master in creation of 
situations ; his perception was rapid and the means he employed 
were clever ; his courage was great, but his example was a wrong 
one to copy, and bad for the training of others. I am speaking 
without rancour, and bear him no grudge. My husband and myself 
did not meet with his approval. He considered us inconvenient 

443 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1893 tools, and the way in which his party treated us and tried to render 
us innocuous has become a matter of history. I cannot say that 
it was a pleasant time, and its effect has not yet passed. I suffered 
greatly, but I have gladly endured it all, and am ready to pay the 
highest price for it, if it has done any good at all, for I steered 
the course which I whole-heartedly considered the right one. The 
fact that my son's soul was alienated from me is the wilful and 
purposeful work of one party. It thinks it has performed a 
patriotic deed ; it has the power, whereas I had none, and I will 
most likely go to my grave unknown, alien and misunderstood, 
for a lonely woman is not able to achieve anything against many 
turbulent men and their blind prejudices. Fate will not have it 
otherwise, and I do not impute to the men who trod us under 
foot any bad motives. I feel convinced that they thought they 
were serving their country and considered the means they made 
use of de bonne guerre I Men are perishable, but ideas live. The 
Emperor Frederick's hopes and what he worked for may some day 
be realised, but not for a long long time. Maybe they will come 
after hard times, but I shall not live to see them! Pray forgive 
my long dissertation : I have had time to think it all out in this 
beautiful and still night at Tartoi. When my heart is well-nigh 
bursting with pain and bitterness, when I think of Berlin, then I 
look up to the golden stars and regain my tranquillity and peace, 
for sometimes things turn out better than one thinks, and a few 
decades count in the lives of nations not more than a few minutes 
to us here. I believe firmly in eternal progress and evolution, 
whether quick or slow, and whether those men disappear or not 
who might have sown the seed for this development and prevented 
an arrest of this process. 1 

Meanwhile, the difficulties occasioned in Roumania by 
the long absence of Queen Elizabeth (Carmen Sylva) in 
Germany, now seemed to be approaching a solution* In 
the October of 1893 a son was born to Prince Ferdinand 
and his consort, and the event was the prelude to the 
return of the Queen to Roumania during the following 

1 Published in Baron von Reischach's Under Three Emperors, 
p. 140 seq. 

444 



CAPRIVPS CHANCELLORSHIP 

year. Before the return of the Queen to Bukarest the 1893 
Empress Frederick had written to Queen Victoria 
(October 17) : 

. . . Poor Elizabeth I I had not the heart to telegraph to 
her, as I feel the joy cannot be without great bitterness for 
her 

So many thanks for your dear letter of the I2th. You say in 
one part that Elizabeth did not like the peculiar position of Herr 
von Roggenbach in her mother's house. Elizabeth was always 
devoted to him and owes him an immense debt of gratitude. The 
moment the intrigues began, Elizabeth took a dislike to him, to her 
mother, the King and all her old friends. The set that surrounded 
her heaped the vilest lies and calumnies on the heads of both 
H. v. R. and the Princess. They are all to be read in that detestable 
book Mishe Royale. Now Elizabeth is shocked and horrified 
and sends for H. v. R. and says she cannot understand how she 
could misunderstand her best friend. He has behaved, as he always 
does, with the greatest tact and unselfishness. Those who say he 
is indiscreet make the most outrageous mistake. He is the very 
reverse, so retiring, so delicate and so tactful, it is indeed very 
difficult to get him to come and see one, or write. How often the 
Empress Augusta used to say that, and what confidence she and 
Fritz and General v. S. had in him, and those who are alive have 
still. How Fritz looked up to him! 

I think you forget, dear Mama, that it was Bismarck and his 
whole large party who persecuted him. W. sanctioned his house 
in the country being broken into and the locks of all his boxes 
forced, his writing table broken open, his private papers seized, 
copied and shown to the members of the Bundesrath. This 
villainous act of abuse of power happened just before I came to 
Osborne in 1888. It is a black spot on the present regime and reign 
and was in connection with Geffcken's being thrown into prison. 
This was worthy of Napoleon the First, or of Richelieu, or the 
Medicis in the Middle Ages. It was no indiscretion of Roggenbach's 
it was done in order to make a case against Fritz and against me. 
I am not so magnanimous as Roggenbach. I cannot forgive and for- 
get all that yet it was my son who sanctioned and encouraged all 
this, and that makes the difference ; if he had been a stranger, one 
could have got over it. 

445 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

The year 1894 opened with the ostensible recon- 
ciliation between Prince Bismarck and the Emperor 
William. The Prince was warmly and honourably re- 
ceived by the Emperor, and a popular ovation marked 
the passage of the aged ex-Chancellor on his way to meet 
his sovereign. 

The Emperor was now fully determined that Germany 
should expand wherever possible, and in his colonial 
policy he was now supported by his former Chancellor, 
who had changed his opinions on this subject during the 
past few years. In the June of 1894 Germany took excep- 
tion to certain clauses in an agreement signed in the 
previous May between Great Britain and the Congo Free 
State, by which a strip of territory was leased to Great 
Britain for the eventual track of a Cape to Cairo railway. 
This would have interposed a belt of British territory 
between the Congo and German East Africa, but under 
German pressure the lease was abandoned. The ex- 
Empress watched Bismarck's attitude to these questions 
with interest, and on June 21, 1894, wrote to Queen 
Victoria : 

I think the German Government are quite wrong about the 
Congo and that they are making themselves odious for no reason. 
It is too absurd to suspect England of falseness and treachery 
that is not in our line. I always was strongly against German 
Colonies in Africa. They are of no use to Germany only an 
expense and a trouble. They do not understand in Germany how 
to manage and govern them, and it only makes the Germans 
quarrelsome and pretentious and always on the qui vive ; in short 
it seems to me very unnecessary to embark on any such adven- 
ture. Fritz always thought so. Prince Bismarck used to be strongly 
opposed to these colonial enterprises and then suddenly took them 
up. One of his friends, I think it was General v. Schweinitz, 
expressed his surprise at this change, and Bismarck answered, " I, 
too, think Germany would be better ofFwithout this colonial policy, 
446 



CAPRIVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

but I must have it as a means of stirring up German indignation 1894 
against England whenever I want it, because the Crown Prince 
[Fritz] will be too prone to form a friendship with England and 
I must be able to keep him in check by ' German patriotism '. I 
want England's co-operation often, but I will not have the influence 
of British ideas in Germany the constitutionalism and liberalism 
to which the Crown Prince is given. I must also have a means of 
bringing England to terms when I want her support, and therefore 
I must stimulate German colonial enthusiasm." I do not know 
whether I ever told you this it is a long while ago, but it comes 
back to me now. It is so like the cunning old fox it may be very 
clever for his own purposes of reigning supreme and appearing 
to a great many excitable, violent and short-sighted Germans as 
the greatest patriot of the day, and the one who most wishes to 
raise Germany's position, uphold her honour and glory and carry 
her name abroad that it should triumph over the seas. Looked 
at practically and impartially it is great rubbish. If the Germans 
wanted a real, useful, good Colony in a place where a great many 
Germans have settled and colonised, the south of Brazil would be 
much better, and at one time in Paraguay one might have had a 
very favourable opportunity after the war when the population 
was so decimated. There are buildings, roads, navigable rivers, etc., 
and one might have done useful work, whereas in the Cameroons 
the climate is impossible and the whole thing is altogether unsatis- 
factory and a mistake and a failure. 

But this is only my private idea. I know you will not betray 
me. I have Germany's interest every bit as much at heart as Prince 
Bismarck had, but not to drive Germany to acts of folly by exciting 
false patriotism. I should like to see her people in the enjoyment 
of more civilisation, liberty, culture and prosperity, and freed from 
many a yoke which weighs upon them ; I feel convinced that this 
is quite compatible with being on the best of terms with England 
and not coming into any collision with British interests, and that 
true greatness and power He in the development and progress of 
the nation. With so huge an Army as Germany is obliged to keep 
up at present, an unduly and disproportionately large Navy seems to 
me a mistake, both from an economical and political point of view. 

William's one idea is to have a Navy which shall be larger 
and stronger than the British Navy, but this is really pure madness 
and folly and he will see how impossible and needless it is. One 

447 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1894 large enough for German requirements and as good as possible 
of its kind is all that ought to be aimed at with prudence and 
safety. But he has some fantastic idea of Peter the Great, Frederick 
the Great, etc., who did so much by their own initiative, and 
forgets how Germany is thirsting for liberty and reform in so 
many things, and how his true work cut out for him, left him as 
a legacy by his father, is of a very different kind. 

To this letter the Empress added a postscript, which 
shows that her opinion of Bismarck had not changed 
greatly since his demission from office in 1890 : 

What I confided to you in my letter this morning, I should 
not venture to tell Lord Rosebery. He was and is still, I believe, 
very intimate with the Bismarcks, and how could I tell whether B. 
might not hear his own words again. I remember that he said them 
to Schweinitz, who is a very reserved, cautious and discreet man, 
but B. might be furious with him and he would never tell me 
anything again. Whenever Prince B. is no more and nothing dis- 
agreeable could occur to Schweinitz, it would not matter who 
knew it it would amuse and interest Lord Rosebery then. Prince 
Bismarck's dodgy, tricky ways his sharpness in trying to turn 
everything to advantage for his own power were very difficult 
to cope with. Germany is now saddled with troublesome and 
unprofitable Colonies highly flattering to its amour propre, and 
the public in their enthusiasm consider it another leaf in the 
crown of laurels which surrounds the brows of their great bene- 
factor and patriot, the great Chancellor, but only the wiser few 
perceive how doubtful a benefit he has conferred on his country. 
I, of course, am not at liberty to express my opinion and should 
lay myself out to much misunderstanding and be considered un- 
faithful to German interests. The German Government once hav- 
ing embarked on this affair, of course, must continue to carry out 
what it has begun and would consider it most humiliating to 
abandon the policy into which it threw itself headlong with 
such rashness. The very sound of the thing is fantastical and 
charms William, as all startling, unusual, sensational and new things 
do. I am very glad that a quiet, steady and clever man, such as 
Hatzfeldt, is in London just now it would be so easy to make a 
mess and so difficult to get out of it. . , . 
448 



CAPRTVTS CHANCELLORSHIP 

In the October of 1894 General von Caprivi resigned 1894 
or, as some thought, was removed from the post of 
Chancellor, and his place was taken by Prince Chlodwig 
von Hohenlohe. The Empress Frederick had long had 
a very high opinion of Caprivi, and in her letter to 
Queen Victoria of December 18, 1894, expressed it un- 
hesitatingly : 

Caprivi was looked upon by most sensible and reasonable 
people as a drag on the wheel of the Government and a guarantee 
that no very sudden adventure would be plunged into. The very 
quick, easy and unceremonious way in which he was removed 
(at least to all appearances) made many sections of the public appre- 
hensive as to what might follow. Prince Hohenlohe, who is certainly 
a wise, calm and prudent man, has evidently been taken by storm 
and either overridden or has had no time to consider all the conse- 
quences of the step that was being taken ; and the strong reactionary 
and ultra-conservative spirit that has for a hundred and more years 
been the element of all mischief in Germany has gained the upper 
hand, and the Government has taken a very rash step, which I fear 
will end in a defeat. 

I am only a silent and much-distressed spectator of what goes 
on. To be able to warn, or to put in a word of advice, one would 
have to be on the spot and the first to speak. When things have 
once been misrepresented to W, and he has formed an opinion, 
which he does in two minutes, and has resolved on a thing and also 
carried it immediately into effect, it is of course no use to remon- 
strate. He takes criticism very much amiss, and unfortunately it 
does not make an impression or have the desired effect of en- 
lightening or convincing him. It only irritates and fills him with 
suspicion, or offends him ... so that whatever shadow of in- 
fluence one might have on this or that occasion or question would 
of a certainty be destroyed. There is nothing for it but to shut 
one's mouth and only seize whatever good opportunity chance may 
offer one, however rare this may be, to say what one thinks or feels. 

Poor Prince Hohenlohe has no easy task. 



20 449 



CHAPTER XVII 

CLOSING YEARS 

1895 THE Emperor William's choice of a new Chancellor, 
Prince Hohenlohe, was one which appealed to the Em- 
press Frederick. He had only been Chancellor for three 
months when she wrote to Queen Victoria (January 4, 
1895): 

... I saw Prince Hohenlohe lately and he seemed all right 
and to meet all the great difficulties he has to fight against with 
the greatest calmness. Not the smallest one is William's impulsive- 
ness. William does not know and understand the rights of things, 
but speaks and telegraphs with the greatest aplomb and unconcern 
where it would be better to say nothing, to form one's own 
opinion very slowly and express it very rarely. It makes me so 
unhappy to see how great W.'s unpopularity is in the town here, 
in the army, in the provinces, amongst the lower orders, etc. Of 
course, people are often very unjust, but I am afraid it is the great 
imprudence constantly committed which is the cause. I can say 
nothing and do nothing. I wish I could hope that there would 
be improvement in this respect all the people that surround him 
are too inferior to be of real use in opening his eyes and a help 
in forming his judgment. I think Prince Hohenlohe's calm, con- 
ciliatory and dignified manner will by degrees have an influence. 
He is both wise and patient and has great tact and experience. . . . 

Hohenlohe, however, was not strong enough to pre- 
vent the Emperor from continuing his practice of mat- 
ing provocative speeches, another of which was made at 
the opening of the new Parliament House at Berlin on 
450 



CLOSING YEARS 

December 5, 1894. Three days later the Empress wrote 1894 
to her mother : 

. . . There has been a little row directly in the Reichstag. The 
Socialists refused to get up when three cheers for the Emperor 
were asked for. The reason they gave was one which I trust 
William will hear, and which indeed I was almost furious about 
with them. They could not cheer for a man who exhorted his 
soldiers in a speech to fire at the rest of the people whenever he 
ordered it. This is, of course, only an excuse on the part of the 
Socialists, but it shows the harm these distressing and unfortunate 
speeches do and how people do not forget them. How unneces- 
sary it is for a Sovereign to be present when recruits take the oath, 
and then to harangue them! The German press (the Conservative 
portion) are very Anglophobe just now for no reason it is too 
stupid. Their vanity and their jealousy of England have been 
purposely so stimulated by Prince Bismarck for his own purposes 
that now he is gone, that section of the public which he was 
wont to excite whenever it suited him is roused the minute a 
cry is raised, and their patriotism bursts forth in the most ridiculous 
and unjust attacks on England's rapacity, duplicity, etc., and the 
lies they spread, the nonsense they believe, are truly absurd. The 
only way is to treat it with the contempt it deserves, and the 
wiser heads and all the Liberals regret it very much and think it 
very foolish. One must never forget that Prince Bismarck admitted 
(in private) that he was only animating this colonial fever in order 
to have a bone of contention with England and a means of setting 
German public opinion against the English. It was just like him, 
and it is great folly and very detrimental to real German interests. 

Relations between the Emperor William and Bismarck 
now grew in cordiality, and on the occasion of the ex- 
Chancellor's eightieth birthday the Emperor presented 
him with a sword of honour on March 26, 1895,, at the 
ex-Chancellor's residence at Friedrichsruh. 

It was rumoured at this time that Mr. Gladstone, the 
veteran English Liberal statesman, was also desirous of 
paying some honour to the old exponent of Prussianism, 
and in June 1895, when he was cruising in German waters 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1895 in one of Sir Donald Currie's ships, the suggestion was 
mooted that he should pay a visit to Friedrichsruh. The 
Empress Frederick's comment on this piece of news ran 
as follows (June 21, 1895) : 

. . . "What an odd idea of Mr. Gladstone and his party to wish 
to see Prince Bismarck and pay him a visit at Friedrichsruh. Prince 
Bismarck so cordially hated Mr. Gladstone and loathed English 
Liberals that I think the plan of paying a visit there was natfin the 
extreme. . . . 

The rumour, however, proved false, and on July 5 
the Empress wrote to Queen Victoria : 

... I thought it seemed very unlikely that Mr. Gladstone had 
wanted to pay Prince Bismarck a visit. The latter has been again 
making mischievous and spiteful speeches which in one way I do 
not regret, as it shows so plainly what his thoughts are and always 
will be in spite of all the fuss made of him. . . . 

It was indeed difficult for the ex-Chancellor to change 
his outlook on the turn German policy had taken since 
1890, and he remained a keen critic of the political situa- 
tion. On December 21, 1895, the Empress wrote from 
Berlin : 

Here I am sorry to say things are not going well. H. v. Keller 
has W.'s ear, and W. is very angry with Prince Hohenlohe for 
having insisted on K.'s dismissal. If W. only knew what a service 
Prince Hohenlohe has rendered him. H. v. K. was simply im- 
possible, and to push coercive measures still further against the 
Socialists and the press and having these constant arrests and 
prosecuting people for lese-majeste was really not possible and 
has already created great ill-feeling and discontent and has made 
W. still more unpopular. Alas, he does not see the danger he 
is so ill-informed and does not understand the situation; his 
attitude is more and more one of an absolute monarch, which 
here in Germany is an anomaly. If it were not for Prince Hohen- 
lohe, who is so wise and gentle and prudent and tolerant, and has 
such an excellent way of dealing with people and such a perfect 

45* 



CLOSING YEARS 

temper, and is so utterly unselfish and disinterested, though he is 1895 
not a Liberal, many more dreadful mistakes would be made. These 
terrible Junkers, who brought on the year '48 and later regained 
the upper hand with my father-in-law, seem all powerful now. 
The most retrograde nonsense is preached and carried out ; pietism 
is rampant and emanates from Court circles. It is bitter indeed 
to have to sit still and look on at all the blunders made. I much 
regretted the visit to Friedrichsruh, though I trust it is not a sign 
of what is much expected, i.e. a Ministry, Ct. Waldersee and 
Herbert Bismarck instead of dear Prince Hohenlohe. It would be 
the worst thing possible for Germany, but the Court Party are 
working at it, Keller, etc. 

Events in the Balkans now again began to attract 
attention. In Bulgaria Prince Ferdinand was striving to 
shake off Turkish suzerainty, and apparently hoped to 
achieve this goal by courting Russian influence. 

... I must say [wrote the Empress on January 4, 1895] I am 
horrified when I read of what Ferdinand is doing in Bulgaria. It 
seems that he is dying to be recognised by Russia and the other 
Powers^and thinks to obtain Russia's favour by all these concessions 
to the Russophile party, which concessions seem as dangerous to 
me as they are undignified, and will not buy Russia's" good graces 
one bit, while they will do Bulgaria harm. 

A few months later, in the July of that year, M. Stam- 
bouloff, the autocratic Bulgarian Prime Minister from 1887 
to 1894, was assassinated by Macedonians in Sofia. On 
July 20 the Empress Frederick wrote to Queen Victoria : 

This murder of poor Stambouloff is a very shocking thing and 
very bad for Ferdinand. The German papers are down upon him 
in the severest manner even too harsh, I should think. Still, if 
he were wise, he would rush back to Sofia, have a strict inquiry 
made and the murderers brought to justice (even though they may 
be in the pay of the Russian Panslavists' Committee). Ferdinand 
seems bent on coquetting with Russia in the hopes of being 
recognised, which he never will be. I own the state of the East 
seems very uncomfortable just now. The horrors that have been 

453 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1895 committed in Armenia the lukewarmness and half-heartedness of 
the Great Powers in obliging the Sultan to stop them. The signs 
of rising in Macedonia are also very disquieting. How far the Slav 
population are encouraged and instigated by Russian Panslavists 
and money to rise, one does not know. If the Slav population, 
Bulgarians, etc., try to shake off the Turkish yoke now, you may 
be sure that all the Greek population in Epirus, Thessalonica and 
Crete will do the same and no Government can keep them quiet, 
as for generations it has been their aim and they have dreamed 
and thought of nothing else. Least of all had the Greek Govern- 
ment the power to keep it down, though it may make every effort 
to do so. ... Then we should have the East in a blaze 3 and the 
Great Powers of Europe are not of one mind and might be arrayed 
against each other indeed probably would, which is terrible to 
think of and the consequences incalculable. 

Do you know that some years ago Prince Lobanoff [who was 
appointed Russian Foreign Minister in March 1895] elaborated a 
scheme for putting Bulgaria in order again (in the Russian sense), 
Le. regaining it for Russia. He submitted it to the late Emperor, 
but it was laid aside as not opportune, and I am afraid now he 
(Prince Lobanoff) is in office, he will think the time come to carry 
the plan out. Does Lord Salisbury know this ? It is so unfor- 
tunate that the Turkish Government and their management of 
their home affairs should go from bad to worse those who must 
support and maintain Turkey should, if possible, insist on some 
of die abuses ceasing, but it is very very difficult. The whole of 
the terrible Eastern question crops up again. How is it going to 
be dealt with, one asks. So much has changed since the Crimean 
war., and the situation is no longer the same. I am sure it pre- 
occupies you too. 

"When one has a grand-daughter in Russia, one in Greece and 
one in Roumania, one can but feel more than disquieted at the 
thoughts of a conflagration being so near the East is a powder 
barrel and at this moment there are sparks enough flying about. . . . 
Some people think the Sultan has more confidence in Russia 
now than in any other Power it is most strange. 

In the few years that were now left to the Empress 
Frederick her relations with her son improved in cordial 
454 



CLOSING YEARS 

feeling and sympathy. It was, however, very distressing 1897 
to her that Anglo-German relations, which had been so 
fair in the previous decade, were now showing an ever- 
growing tension. 

I am naturally anxious to do what I can [the Empress wrote to 
Baron Reischach from England in 1897] in order to attenuate the 
points of friction whenever I become aware of them, but it is 
absolutely impossible for me to make any impression on the press 
of either country. . . . I fortunately never see the low-class press, 
but one cannot afford to ignore it. It would be regrettable if the 
Emperor should make a point of noticing it, for he would get a 
wrong impression of public opinion. But it is a regrettable fact 
that, after making allowances for exaggerations, there should still 
remain a sense of distrust for which the Emperor has only himself 
to blame. The measure of sympathy which he possessed was very 
great and rare, and a fine trump card in his hands with which he 
might have obtained many invaluable advantages for Germany. 
Time alone can let the grass grow on all that has happened and 
re-establish the feeling of mutual confidence. But I consider this 
difficult as long as the whole of the German press continues to 
act as it has for the last twelve months, when venom and abuse have 
exhausted everything that could be said against England. Though 
this is rarely mentioned here and the subject hardly ever discussed 
before me, the inevitable result will be that England will feel con- 
vinced that Germany wishes to be hostile to her on principle, and 
not only the Emperor, and will eventually be driven more and 
more into the arms of Russia and France, which would upset all 
the policy which I have had before me all my life, and which would 
link together the two Germanic and Protestant States, and this I 
consider to be the most desirable goal for both. 

This fond hope has, I fear, for the present been destroyed ; let 
us hope it may revive again some day. The harm which Germany 
is doing herself is greater than that which she is inflicting on 
England. I am afraid that they do not quite realise this in Berlin. 
I have said before that I cannot notice anything in the way of ill- 
feeling in daily life. The Queen is constantly praising the Emperor 
for never missing an opportunity of being courteous and attentive, 
saying that he had been exceptionally courteous and sympathetic 

455 



LETTERS OF EMPRESS FREDERICK 

1898 on the death of the old Admiral, Sir Alexander Milne, and you 
know my mother is very fond of her grandson. 1 

Much of the tension between Germany and England 
at this period was due to Germany's determination to 
proceed with the development of her infant fleet and 
generally to increase her armaments. It was the